A study carried out by researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, has revealed that Wi-Fi reduces seafarer stress on-board ships.
The study, titled ‘Navigating Everyday Connectivities at Sea’, found that digital connectivity offers seafarers regular contact with their families during sailings and makes the transition easy when they return home.
Digital access enables seafarers to be in touch with everyday mundane events and activities at home, reducing the feeling that they are missing out on important life events.
The study, which also saw the participation of Inmarsat and global maritime charity Sailors’ Society, revealed that young people who have been brought up with constant connectivity consider the ability to get online as a significant factor while deciding their career at sea.
It also showed that, unlike the ship owners’ usual claim that on-board connectivity disrupts work and rest pattern, on-board internet actually helps improve these patterns.
Restrictions on the usage of the internet have forced seafarers to ration their allowance to certain periods or to prioritise contact with friends. These constraints have increased personal stress or anxiety if domestic issues could not be resolved immediately or in real-time.
One of the principal researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London Dr Rikke Bjerg Jenson said: “Digital connectivity at sea has been one of the major talking points of the decade in the maritime industry, which has been slow to adopt technology enabling improvements in connectivity across the world’s commercial fleet.
“While several studies have used surveys to try to establish the rate of these improvements and their wide-ranging implications, none – to our knowledge – has taken observations of crew behaviour and conversations with seafarers as their starting point.”
In order to conduct the researh, an immersive study approach on-board two container ships was employed for ten days – one with on-board Wi-Fi capabilities and one without.