The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for seafarers, as disruption to the pattern of crew changes has exposed many thousands of seafarers to working beyond their contracts or unable to access their ships. How well and how quickly has been the response of governments and the industry to this problem? What lessons can be learned for the future? What are the implications for crew welfare and mental health, and how best can these critical issues be addressed?
The need for better communication and greater bandwidth between ships and shore has never been greater, to manage increased data monitoring, vessel optimisation and provide much needed support for crew at sea and their families at home. What are the next steps in achieving this and over what timescale can improved connectivity be rolled out?
The rapid increase in the automation of ship systems, equipment and operations will transform the roles and responsibilities of seafarers, as well as crew numbers at sea. What are the implications of these changes for careers at sea, the onboard experience, and the demands made of seafarers?
What progress has been made in the provision of skills training in response to these technological changes? What role can e-learning at sea play in assisting seafarers to adapt to this changing world of work? How can it contribute to seafarers’ welfare?
Remote inspections have become a necessity for many ship operators, charterers, service companies and classification societies struggling to manage their inspection schedules during the pandemic period. Reliant on bandwidth, good communication and crew co-operation, will this new way of working benefit or burden the seafarer? And how can new technologies help in making sure those on board are not taking up the strain?