Mental health is a pronounced problem in the maritime industry. From time to time, a significant number of people at sea experience emotions of anxiety, hopelessness and negativity. These emotions can lead to depression, psychotic breakdown, or worse. This is why, in October 2019, we decided to recalibrate our FLEET CARE department to zero in on seafarers’ wellness and their mental wellbeing.
FLEET CARE, based out of India, brings together 10 highly motivated and energetic individuals, hailing from a diverse range of professional backgrounds from across India. Together they are responsible for making policies, ideating and driving a raft of programmes that support and promote the wellbeing of seafarers and their families.
“Connecting with our seafarers and their families and helping them in tough times brings me great professional satisfaction.” – Tejashri Kamble, Assistant Manager, FLEET CARE
This year, in a bid to support seafarers and their families navigate through these unprecedented times, the FLEET CARE team has launched a suite of initiatives.
Crisis Response Network (CRN): The team teamed up with Sailors’ Society and created a 24/7 counselling helpline, to provide counselling services over the telephone, email and live chat, to seafarers in distress anywhere in the world. Multilingual support is available.
Since its launch on 25 March 2020, CRN has been receiving an average of 35 calls per month.
An inhouse psychologist: In February 2020, a fulltime in-house clinical psychologist, Rini Mathew, joined the team, to provide specialised psychological support to our seafarers.
Rini provides psychotherapeutic intervention to crew members suffering from a psychological condition. She aims to equip them with the necessary skills to effectively deal with distress while onboard. At the time of writing, she has conducted 135 psychological intervention sessions with 100% success rate.
Crew movement: Since the onset of the pandemic, crew movement has been one of the biggest challenges this year. FLEET CARE has been relentlessly working with our crewing team to streamline the process and carry out crew movement as seamlessly as possible.
Thanks to their combined efforts, our current tally for crew movement as of 30 November 2020 and since travel restrictions came into play, stands at 16,454 worldwide. Since the last few weeks, we have been averaging around 450 crew changes per week.
Monetary Relief (Pandemic allowance): To provide monetary relief measures to seafarers who are working beyond their contracts in the wake of the travel restrictions, the team launched the ‘Contract Extension Allowance’ on 15 April 2020. The allowance is equivalent to 25% of a seafarer’s basic wage, commencing from the date he completes his contract plus 30 days thereon.
Increased daily internet allowance: To let seafarers be in touch with their loved ones and families during these challenging times, the team initiated to increase the daily internet data allowances across all our ships, as a token of appreciation.
For the families
With the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications hovering over our backs, FLEET CARE significantly stepped up its efforts to boost the morale of the families of our seafarers.
WE CARE Bulletin: The team published the first edition of the We CARE bulletin this year that features stories, articles, photographs, poems and artwork by the seafarers’ families.
Funky Friday: Starting this year, every Friday, FLEET CARE organises a virtual get-together to connect families of seafarers across India. On average, around 120 families get together via 16 WhatsApp groups to connect, catch up and share some laughs over crossword puzzles, brainteasers, Tombola and many more. Going forward, the team looks to increase participation by 5% every month and engage families of Filipino and Eastern European seafarers as well.
Welfare calls: For seafarers experiencing personal emergencies, the team makes welfare calls every day to the families, to check on their wellbeing, cater to their needs or respond to any queries they may have regarding their family member onboard. On average, 140 welfare calls are made to seafarers’ families weekly.
Furthermore, if a seafarer sustains an injury while onboard a ship, the team continues to support him and the family until he becomes medically fit. They also assist the family on issues related to medical claims.
For the environment
Aside from seafarers’ wellbeing, another area the team champions is the environment.
To embed action on environmental sustainability and biodiversity, FLEET joined forces with the Indian NGO SANKALP TARU on the project, GIFTING A GREEN LIFE, on 25 June 2020.
The project adopts a “rural livelihood plantation model” and looks to plant fruit-bearing and medicinal saplings on the fields of marginalised farmers in rural areas across India. So far, FLEET has planted 10,000 saplings – 6600 in Maharashtra and Punjab combined and 3400 in Rajasthan.
Considering the average life span of a fruit-bearing tree is 20 years, these 10,000 saplings when they grow, have the power to generate an estimated 19980 tonnes of oxygen and sequester 10424 tonnes of carbon dioxide, in 20 years.
Further, per season, they would produce around 717 tonnes of fruits, equating to an economic value of 0.25 million dollars for farmers.
Moreover, to drive awareness and environmental consciousness, FLEET CARE has made a digital forest for seafarers, where they tag the saplings planted to individual seafarers on their birthdays or when they reach a particular milestone, like completing ten, fifteen or twenty years of service at FLEET. This way, a seafarer can track his tagged tree throughout its entire life cycle.
Since its inception, FLEET CARE has been striving to play a significant role in addressing some key issues facing the maritime industry today. We hope the team goes from strength to strength and continue to have an impact on seafarers, their families, and the environment.