Successful Seafarers’ Welfare Conference at London International Shipping Week

September 19, 2019

How do we help the seafarer of the future? This was the question at the centre of discussions at a successful conference on 11 September about ‘The Impact of Technology on Crew Wellbeing’.

The event – co-organised as part of London International Shipping Week (LISW) by The Mission to Seafarers, Seafarers UK, Apostleship of the Sea and Sailor’s Society, and generously hosted by satellite communications firm, Inmarsat – was attended by over 240 delegates from across the maritime sector with representatives from ship management and technology companies, trade bodies, welfare-based organisations, maritime services firms, and trade unions.

Keynote speaker Dr Grahaeme Henderson, VP at Shell, highlighted the importance of the work being carried out by the four LISW-nominated charities. He said: ‘As an industry, we can do much more about caring for our own and other people’s wellbeing. We can become a leading industry in the challenging area of mental health’. He also spoke of his aspiration for a zero-incident-based industry, which resulted in a good discussion amongst fellow panellists and from the floor as to whether this was an achievable aim, or not.

There were four key panel debates during the afternoon, looking at everything from how technology could improve or may impact on physical and mental health and safety issues, to how other industries are tackling issues like fatigue, isolation and long contracts and how the maritime sector might learn from them, as well as how charities should prepare for the welfare needs of future generations of seafarers. Overall, one key message from the conference seemed to be that charities are key frontline sources of information & support in the maritime space and that they should be better listened to.

The day concluded with the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network Awards, which allowed seafarers to nominate their welfare heroes across four categories. MPA Singapore won ‘Port of the Year’, ‘Shipping Company of the Year’ went to Teekay Corporation, Liverpool Seafarers Centre was recognised as ‘Seafarer Centre of the Year’ and Garry South from The Mission to Seafarers in Australia won ‘The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year’.