Seafarers - people without a home

Many people consider seamen as the most lucky people on earth, as they can travel around the world on ships without paying for it. They go from port to port and enjoy life for many years. They do experience the beauty of nature and they meet different people all over the world. This is at least the view we might get when we see seafarers from a superficial point of view. The opposite is true: Here are some results of the "Seafarers Living Conditions Survey" that was done among 6000 seafarers from 93 countries in 1996.(please ask at for the Mori Report)  

Age and Length of Service: 60% of the respondents are under 40 years of age. The youngest group of seafarers by nationality are Filipino and Chinese nationals. Half of the respondents have been at sea for over ten years. Most of the seafarers spend an average of 6-12 months at sea, two months at home and again many months away from home. Seafarers dedicate their life in order to get a better living standard for their family at home. They literally sacrifice their life for the family. 

Financial Situation: Payment for their work on board ships is often very low. 52% of the respondents earn less than US$ 1,100.-- a month. 23% of seafarers support 5 or more persons, and 55% support between two and four people.  

Communications: Loneliness creeps in to the day to day situation, not to forget that communication on board is not always easy as some ships have up to 10 and more nationalities represented. 42% of the seafarers work in a language other than their own, 11% rely on interpretation. 40% of those working in a foreign language complain of having difficulties in understanding colleagues, compared to 18% of those who work in their own language. Only 30% of sailors serve on vessels with a homogenous crew.  

Working Hours: Work on board ships is challenging as seamen work under difficult circumstances. Storms and problems at sea are always present with seamen. A quarter of seafarers have a working day of 8 hours or less. 62% work between 8 and 12 hours, 11% work between 12 and 18 hours, and 3% work over 18 hours a day. On passenger vessels 33% work over 12 hours a day.  

Safety: The majority of seafarers have suffered an accident of one kind or another on board a vessel in the past two years. This startling fact is even more worrying given that 33% have suffered an accident in the six months preceding the survey and 44% have had an accident within the last year.  

Incidences of Abuse: Shockingly, 25% of all seafarers experienced unfair treatment because of their race or nationality in the year preceding the survey. Another shocking figure is the level of physical abuse. 10% of all seafarers were physically abused in the year preceding the survey.  

Temptations: Seafarers are in danger to go ashore and meet with a prostitute in many ports worldwide. With all these things in mind, one should not forget that every year many ships are sinking worldwide and the life of a seaman is always a life with an uncertain future.