Marking a significant step forward in seafarer welfare, a group of established maritime entities have joined forces to build a digital platform aimed at improving the emotional well-being of the world’s 1.7 million seafarers.
Launched today, the Safebridge CrewCare app – jointly developed by volunteer group Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers (CSSS), maritime EdTech company Safebridge, data analytics company Motion Ventures, and the Universities of Manchester and Plymouth – encourages seafarers to open up about their feelings and thoughts to mitigate the risk of depression and suicide.
In 2017, the UK P&I Club revealed that suicide was the top cause of seafarers’ deaths, accounting for 15% of all fatalities at sea.
Prof. Capt. Ralph Becker-Heins, CEO, Safebridge, said: “Safebridge recognises seafarers as the global maritime industry’s beating heart, without whom international trade would grind to a halt. Whether it is with our #BeSafe campaign, our series of interviews giving seafarers a louder voice, or now with the CrewCare app, we continue to support our seafarers. This latest solution is the next logical step towards a future where every single seafarer is able to more closely interact with those ashore, taking greater care of his or her well-being.”
Commenting on the combined expertise and synergy of the organisations involved in the development, Emmanolia Kolias, Global Sales Leader, Safebridge, said: “Each organisation participating in this project collectively applied its knowledge, expertise, and capabilities to contribute to the CrewCare app’s vision and success.
“As a result, CrewCare makes it possible to create a real-time connection between crew managers and their seafarers, offering the level of support that goes far beyond career development.”
The app facilitates crew managers’ ability to monitor the status of the seafarers’ well-being, general health, and COVID-19 risks but also gives them the power to take immediate action and offer direct support to those in need.
“We all know that Seafarers’ access to support is critical, and this app allows crew managers to precisely achieve that and ensure that seafarers make it home safely,” said Kolias.
The app incorporates a professionally qualified questionnaire based on techniques medical practitioners use to make decisions when presented with a patient’s symptoms. An algorithm rates the multi-choice answers given to rate the mood of the seafarer from 1 (low risk) to 10.
If a user scores 9 or 10, then that person is identified, and actions can be taken by the ship management company to mobilise appropriately qualified personnel in support of the individual.
Philip Eastell, CSSS founder and the driving force behind the CrewCare initiative, said: “Where concern exists there is now an opportunity for seafarers to get help. The app is a very low-key diagnostics tool set up to ensure that those seafarers struggling to cope receive the care they need.”
Eastell believes that the quality and quantity of the data will also provide the industry with more substantive, meaningful statistics than the limited happiness-type indices developed by other organisations.
“We are hoping that the shipping lines will recognise the importance of this application,” he said.
The app combines features and functionalities derived from Motion Ventures and Safebridge platforms to offer a single central point for assessing, monitoring, and responding to seafarers’ health and well-being needs.
It also features an integrated communications function and affords access to the 24h International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) helpline SeafarerHelp.
Roger Harris, CEO, ISWAN, said: “We welcome this application and the many benefits it will bring to seafarers and ship managers alike, especially during the current crew change crisis when many seafarers are suffering from increased anxiety and stress.”
Valentinos Steliou, Product Manager, Safebridge, added: “The industry has been looking for a solution that caters to the well-being of all our seafarers for some time now. The CrewCare App enables forward-thinking companies to provide their seafarers with a smart tool designed not only to manage their seafarers’ well-being but also to help them provide the requisite care. This app allows ship managers to take positive action and provide support where and when it is needed.”
Safebridge was founded in 2009 and has since established itself as one of the global leaders in providing full-stack digital competency management solutions in the maritime industry. With more than 1300 clients across 90+ countries, the digital solutions of Safebridge have been utilised to advance the knowledge and competence of more than 240,000 seafarers to date. Following the strictest industry standards and legal regulations, Safebridge ensures the highest quality of its products and services, with cutting edge IT solutions for e-Assessment, e-Learning, and e-Certification for seafarers.
Founded in 2017 by Philip Eastell, Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers (CSSS) is a 100% volunteer group based in the UK, of professional individuals working in the maritime and container sectors. Its goal is to raise global awareness of the problems, issues and consequences affecting the wellbeing and welfare of seafarers and fishermen and to facilitate practical projects that help improve seafarer health and happiness.
Its focus is not limited to the container shipping industry. CSSS is not faith based, political, or engages financially or acts for personal financial gain. It aims to deliver specific projects within the shipping industry that directly support seafarers.
Areas where CSSS provides support and awareness include increasing access to onboard communications, addressing isolation and loneliness, mental illness, slavery and human trafficking, bullying, sexual abuse and racist attacks, ship abandonment and piracy.