Social life on a ship is not what it used to be. A complaint that is often heard from crew: “Everyone disappears to his cabin after the watch.” Does the Internet separate people from each other on a vessel? Has social isolation hit the fleet?
These questions were explored at the annual conference of Dutch ICMA-member Stichting Pastoraat Werkers Overzee (Ecumenical Foundation Providing Pastoral Care to Workers in Dredging and Marine Construction). More than 30 representatives of different dredging companies, from both the fleet and the office, listened to different presentations on “Free and connected—Social Life on board 2.0”.
One of the contributions came from Prison Chaplain Jan Broer, who discussed the differences between a ship’s cabin and a prison cell. A cell is a safe place, but there’s also the danger of isolation. Leisure management student Max de Jong informed the audience about trends in leisure: “gamification” and “meaningful activities” could be good starting points for further reflection on new possibilities for leisure onboard ships.
The lively discussion afterwards focused on different tensions: crewmembers do need their private space (an MLC, 2006 achievement!), but they also like social life on board. Crewmembers like to remain free in their choice of leisure time, but some stimulus for social life might be needed. The companies have some responsibility to facilitate this.
The conference ended with a tour of the Boskalis Smit Salvage complex in Waalhaven, Rotterdam. The small salvage museum showed different examples of salvage and diving techniques in the past, which were used during some of their most memorable operations.
Pastor Stefan Francke
Stichting Pastoraat Werkers Overzee (Foundation Providing Pastoral Care for Workers in Dredging and Marine Construction)