What is a Seafarer?

How Would You Define a Seafarer?

You can define a seafarer as literally being someone who is employed to serve aboard any type of marine vessel. This usually refers to active seafaring workers, but can be used to describe a person with a long history of serving within the profession.

This may sound like a simple definition, but delving further into the profession will reveal a plethora of service types and roles that individual seafarers can play in their line of work.

The work that seafarers do is often under-appreciated by the majority, and their working conditions vary. . Read on to learn more about the 1.5 million international seafarers worldwide and discover just why they are so important in helping to maintain our way of life.


Fundamental to the Economy

The supply of goods and fuels is one of the fundamental pillars in the operation of our global economy. But how do these products get transported from manufacturers to their targeted destination for distribution?

A freighter or cargo ship is often the answer to this question. In total, more than 90% of the world’s goods and fuels are transported around the world, thanks to seafarers. Without them the world economy would grind to a halt. This would place businesses and millions of jobs around the world in jeopardy.

This is why seafarers are so important in helping to maintain our current way of life and considered by many to be an under-appreciated key worker.


Seafarers Life on Board Ships

The life of seafarers can be far from idyllic, with many international seafarers regularly completing long term voyages which leave them isolated from friends, family and loved ones for up to nine months at a time. For others it is a career of choice which enables them to provide a better life for their families at home and is worth the sacrifice of time away from them.

Unsurprisingly, communication back home can be problematic for many seafarers owing to varying degrees of access to Wi-Fi on ships or in port. Many seafarers choose to only sail on those ships which provide access to Wi-Fi on board.

However, extended periods away from home can put a strain on relationships with loved ones as well as on mental health. This has been particularly so during the pandemic.

The Mission provides training courses in long-distance communication with loved ones through its WeCare social communications course.

Life on board ship is tough and often dangerous for seafarers who very often have to endure extreme weather conditions, particularly during the cold winter months. Living conditions have improved over the years, but still cabins are functional rather than spacious and vary in quality and comfort. Seafarers face long working hours, long contracts and whilst they are entitled to their own nationality food, sometimes this is not catered for.


A Dangerous Occupation

Alongside a tough environment , seafarers will sometimes also face notable dangers. These can occur for various reasons including extreme weather conditions and piracy at sea in key places around the world.

Many people are ill-informed about piracy, believing it to be a long forgotten life path which has been romanticised by Hollywood. However, this is far from the truth with piracy at sea being one of the most extreme dangers that seafarers can encounter. This is a frightening experience for them and often leaves them suffering mental breakdowns as a result.

These are just a few of the many situations which can arise as part and parcel of what is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous occupations.


Don’t They Have a Choice?

In the developed world we often think about our vocation as being a chosen path. However, for many international seafarers of lower ranks, this is a route out of poverty.

On account of being low skilled, many international seafarers are happy to take any well paid work that they can get. Indeed, in less affluent regions such as the Philippines, a seafarers wage is invariably used to provide fundamental support for up to 15 family members at home.


How Does The Mission to Seafarers Help?

The Mission was set up to provide vital help and support to seafarers as they undertake their essential work. Without their service, we would see our economy crumble and our way of life evaporate.

Offering practical and emotional support and spiritual guidance when asked, to all seafarers regardless of nationality, faith or no faith, The Mission to Seafarers aims to provide as much help as possible to international seafarers through our representation at over 200 sea ports across 50 different countries.
We can’t continue to offer this charitable service without the kind donations and time which is offered by people like you.

If you would like to play your part and help us continue to offer this service to seafarers, then you can make a donation online. Why not give something back to a group who sacrifice so much so that we can continue to enjoy our preferred way of life.

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