A Nautilus whitepaper supporting a campaign for seafarer internet access as a 'basic right not a privilege' was launched to the maritime industry at the end of Seafarers Awareness Week.
The findings in the Nautilus Connectivity at Sea whitepaper were presented at a special roundtable seminar with global satellite company Inmarsat in London, to invited shipping company, industry and maritime charity guests.
Although 88% of seafarers have some sort of internet access, only 6% can video-call families, despite being away from their families for months on end. By comparison statistics show 91% of UK homes and 85% of European homes have broadband access, with the United Nations recently suggesting that access to the internet should be a basic right, rather than a luxury.
The Nautilus survey interviewed nearly 2,000 seafarers and shipping industry leaders for the research. Other key finding were that although most seafarers have internet access, they are on limited wifi speeds at a high cost. In addition, only 57% of crew have personal email access and just one third have social media access at sea (34%).
More than 80% of members considered communications one of the most important collective bargaining issues, however, second only to improved pay. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) agreed they would consider moving to a shipping company which offers better onboard connectivity.
Of the industry leaders surveyed, one in ten admitted they don't provide their employees with any access to the internet (14%). The two biggest reasons given were fears crews would access illegal or adult content (83%) and the potentially high installation costs (83%). The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of respondents (58%) were concerned the provision would result in a distraction to work.
The seminar heard the shipping industry needed to act now to continue attracting the best talent, while also modernising and supporting the existing workforce, their wellbeing and career progression.
General secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'This survey is only the start of the Crew communications campaign and over the next six months the Union will be unveiling more of our findings and encouraging companies, members and ship connectivity providers to join the conversation and work together to improve communications for those living and working at sea.'
This survey is only the start of the Crew communications campaign and over the next six months the Union will be unveiling more of our findings and encouraging companies, members and ship connectivity providers to join the conversation
A quiet revolution is underway in internet access onboard ship
Connectivity at Sea white paper
A white paper outlining the results of a Nautilus survey of members to better understand the current provision for those living and working at sea, and to gauge the opinions of how seafarers feel communications could be improved.