New report says connectivity crucial to seafarers’ future welfare

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Mobile satellite communications leader Inmarsat, has showcased its commitment to crew welfare by sponsoring a new report exploring the future of seafaring to 2050. Entitled ‘Thetius’ the report, which offers recommendations on how shipping, training institutions and welfare services can respond to the changing needs of seafarers, finds that digital crew welfare services will be central to shipping’s ability to deliver fairer conditions for seafarers.

The thought-provoking study, ‘A fair future for seafarers?’, has been prepared by maritime innovation consultancy also called Thetius. It has been published despite shipping’s COVID-19 crewing crisis yet to be resolved.

Taking a view of the shipping industry to 2050, the report suggests epidemics and pandemics may become more common, it predicts crew safety, fatigue and harassment issues are unlikely to recede in the short term, and foresees the potential for seafarer abandonment and criminalisation as growing problems.

If such scenarios appear bleak, they also highlight connectivity as a necessity. According to the report, ‘seafarers in 2050 will likely have greater interaction and engagement with teams of people ashore’.

Shipping economics and carbon emission strategies point to shorter port stays. Welfare services will become more digitally focused than physical, face-to-face contact. Lower crew numbers and shorter shore leaves will also mean less reliance on seafarer centres, therefore online charity outreach services will grow in vital importance.

Ronald Spithout, President of Inmarsat Maritime (pictured) said, “Drawing on recent experience, fast-changing digital landscapes and testimony from industry authorities, this report offers a clear vision of the critical role connectivity and technology will play in crew welfare in the coming years.”

Thetius identifies a number of technologies that are critical for future crew welfare and Inmarsat supports their early adoption.

The launch comes at a time when Inmarsat is preparing to launch a refreshed version of its Fleet Xpress portal, Fleet Hotspot, in the third quarter of 2021.

Download the full report here.