How Conflicts Arise Among Seafarers on Ships?

Ships are like any other professional working set-ups, wherein differences of opinions arise among working seafarers on numerous occasions. While at times differences of opinion may not be that threatening to the nature of routine operations, certain conflicts can and be serious threat to hamper the course of necessary proceedings of the ship.


Moreover, as ship is a confined working area with limited number of people, it becomes extremely important to primarily extrapolate the causes that stand to create major differences of opinion between professionals working on ships and enable ways to settle the discrepancies. This would help in fostering a better working environment, especially considering the longevity of contracts of the maritime professionals.

Differences of opinion or conflicts between seafarers on ships may arise because of various reasons. The various reasons for causation of differences of opinion can be elaborated as follows:

Constraints of Work Environment: Undertaking a maritime commissioning requires individuals to spend longer months away from home and other acclimatized surroundings. At times, this could cause severe debilitating scenarios when professionals feel the strain of being restricted to the work environment, getting to them. Such type of working environment leads to frustration and stress, resulting in to conflicts between seafarers.

Work Pressure: Working aboard a ship requires constant activity on the part of seafarers. At times, necessity might demand that the seafarers put in extra hours in their allotted free time. Long working hours, unfriendly working environment, and limited resources are a part of working on ships. At such situations, any minor verbal discord can result into a major conflicting confrontation needing to be settled at the earliest.

Work pressure induced conflicts can also stem in case multiple operations are required to be carried out at the same time and there is a distinct lack of enough working personnel to carry out all the operations efficiently. While prioritizing the tasks in their order of urgency, conflicts could arise between the seafarers.

Hierarchical Disputes: Differences of opinion and thoughts also arise in vessels when there are conflicts between higher and lower hierarchical work personnel aboard a vessel. Such disputes could either be a matter of simple disagreement of thoughts between two people or they could be more severe, threatening the work relationship irrevocably.

Miscommunication: Lapse of communication is a major problem that could affect working relationship between the seafarers, especially in the times of crises. Miscommunication could also in-turn be an inducer for more causation of conflict like unnecessary envying and rivalry between seafarers aboard the vessel. This could lead to discord and severe problems affecting the positive viability of the whole maritime operation on ships.

Reparation of Differences of Opinion

Since verbal communication channels get strained on account of the conflicting and discord aboard the vessel, the primary duty of the managerial personnel such as chief engineer or captain thus involves trying to use verbal communication to reason out the conflicts and amicably settle them. It’s in such scenarios that the ship’s captain and alongside him, all other senior-level mariners become most important tools to adjudicate the matter responsibly without any bias or partisanship.

Since the atmosphere on ships can be constraining at times, it becomes the obligation of these senior officials to ensure that all communication channels between each and every seafarer are without lapses and even if, minor differences of opinion crop up, they are sorted out before they further escalate.

In case of disputes threatening to arise on account of operational prioritising, various management principles like MBO (Management by Objective) can be employed to diffuse the situation with utmost success.


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