why do sailors quit sailing?

Why Do Sailors Quit Sailing?

Working as a seafarer is a great job, but it is not for everyone. There are a few key reasons why seafarers quit sailing.


Maritime institutes all across the globe produce hundreds of new deck cadets and marine engineers each year. Each of these recent grads, aspire to one day make it big in the maritime industry by becoming a top-notch seafarer.

Every seaman who has worked at sea knows that it is a highly attractive profession. In reality, working at sea appears to be similar to the profession of a footballer, in which a footballer may maintain his fitness while still earning money. However, working at sea is a dangerous profession that demands careful attention, comprehension, and training.

Despite receiving attractive offers for marine jobs, the majority of sailors choose to work on land instead. Even if the maritime business gives more job prospects to seafarers all over the world every year, it is an undeniable truth that on-board labor is very difficult and stressful for seafarers. Why is it the case? Why is it that an exciting and dream career with a great income is having this problem?

The ILO Report Says- “Career growth, work-life balance, working and living conditions, isolation, and loneliness due to lengthy periods at sea may all influence how long a seafarer stays at sea,” the International Labour Organization (ILO) wrote in its “Recruitment and retention of seafarers” study.

One of the biggest challenges that seafarers encounter at the job, in light of the communication issue, is being away from their loved ones while doing their job at sea.

The work of a seafarer has declined in recent years owing to a number of causes, including:

1. Uncertainty in Life

emotional stress makes sailors quit sailing
Staying away from home for an extended period of time might induce emotional stress

This is the most prevalent and apparent cause, as more seafarers are seeking “stable” work on land these days. A seafarer may not mind living a “nomadic” lifestyle at the outset of his profession. But after a few years, especially after marriage, he longs for a more permanent existence, especially with his family. No seafarer wants to lose out on spending time with his wife or watching his kid or daughter grow up without him. Seafarers appreciate the value of “family life” and “loved ones” at this point. This is not a new reason for seafarers to leave their work at sea, but it is still one of the most common causes of professional unhappiness.

2. Life Is a Rush for Mariners

A life of rush makes sailors quit sailing
The 2nd Engineer on board an Offshore Oil Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) in the North Sea, in the process of changing a fuel injector.

It is impossible to deny that living onboard ships has become tremendously stressful. Every year, more strict maritime laws are enacted, making life as a seafarer more frantic, tedious, and monotonous. Increased paperwork, enhanced training rules, new codes, and stringent safety and environmental regulations have made life on board ships exceedingly stressful for sailors. Furthermore, several seafarers have cited inadequate workforce management onboard ships as a cause of increased workload. Needless to say, life on ships, which is already stressful, is getting increasingly more so every year.

3. Issues of Health results in sailors quitting sailing

Severe medical issues, such as back pain, can put a person’s marine career on hold, and have sailors quit sailing
Severe medical issues, such as back pain, can put a person’s marine career on hold

Sailing on ships necessitates adhering to strict medical and health regulations. The irony is that living on board ship isn’t even near to healthy. Despite the tight standards that are to be followed before boarding the ship. The health of sailors is severely harmed by irregular sleeping schedules, high levels of stress, an uncomfortable workplace, a lack of fresh food, and insufficient medical services. Furthermore, a number of seafarers are forced to stop sailing after being diagnosed with medical issues that may necessitate quick medical treatment in an emergency. Many people also express dissatisfaction with the growing disparity between work and rest hours, despite regulations, requiring equal distribution.

4. Politics on board

Onboard ships, no matter how hard you try to avoid professional or personal politics, it will eventually catch up with you. On ships, politics and disputes make it tough not just to work but also to socialize among the already tiny amount of individuals on board. Furthermore, aboard ships, the distinction between work and personal life is razor-thin. This makes avoiding and dealing with politics or confrontations originating from differences of opinion much more difficult. Dealing with tough people on board ships requires a lot of resolve, tolerance, and expertise, especially after professional or personal disagreements.

5. Maritime Piracy is on the Rise

Maritime Piracy is on the Rise
A major reason for sailors to quit sailing
A total of 97 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2021

Despite recent efforts to combat piracy at sea, instances involving pirate attacks and hijacking of ship crew, occur on a monthly basis. Piracy assaults are on the rise, and despite the availability of weaponry to combat them, mariners are understandably concerned. No one wants to put their lives in jeopardy by travelling on ships that sail through pirate-infested waters. One of the numerous reasons given by sailors for abandoning their professions onboard ship, was their dread of pirates.

6. Strict Maritime Laws

Strict Maritime Laws

Maritime workers’ life has become more challenging as a result of strict maritime legislation, particularly for those in managerial positions. As a result of such legislation, many sailors have been imprisoned, fined, and suspended in the past. Officers in managerial positions are frequently the ones that face the brunt of these restrictions and are thus continually stressed while sailing. This is one of the key causes for the serious shortage of marine professionals at the managerial.

7. Hazards at work is a major reason why sailors quit sailing

Hazards at  sea
Large general cargo ship for logistic import export goods and other the explosion and had a lot of fire and smoke while moored at harbor in afternoon

Seafarers are frequently involved in the transportation of hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, explosives, radioactive waste, and other hazardous materials. They frequently operate aloft and perform dangerous tasks such as restricted space entrance, anchoring, and drilling. All of these factors contribute to the chronic stress experienced by sailors as a result of their work. The stress worsens even further if the ship travels through high-risk locations like the Gulf of Guinea.

8. Reduction in crew personnel

Reduction in crew personnel

When an economic downturn strikes, businesses use all means at their disposal, to reduce expenses and overhead costs. One of the strategies used by shipping corporations to save costs is to limit the number of crew members recruited. This leads to an increase in workload without a corresponding rise in pay.

9. Reduction in the amount of shore leaves

less shore leaves

The desire to see the globe is one of the primary reasons individuals join the merchant navy. However, in recent years, the number of shore vacation days allowed to sailors have decreased dramatically. Seafarers do not have the permission to leave ports due to shorter ship turnaround times and scheduled repair procedures. Furthermore, many VLCCs and big capacity ships do not travel to the port for discharge or loading. Denying seamen the opportunity to rest away from the ship’s surroundings. Several sailors today are dissatisfied as a result of such persistent sailing with few or no possibilities for shore leaves.

10. On-Shore Employment Opportunities

On-shore, there are several opportunities. The majority of seafarers quit because they want a stable existence with little danger, and a pleasant social life. If a seafarer sees the comfort of working a normal life free of excitement and risk, they are willing to accept even a modest pay.

To summarize,

Currently, there appears to be a reluctance among young people in various areas of the world. Particularly in traditional maritime countries, to pursue sailing as a career. Even for those young people who do make that decision, their careers at sea are generally brief. Because they are either reluctant or unable to take on higher responsibilities or, more crucially, they intentionally choose not to remain at sea. Mariners labor at the sea for a year and then return to shore occupations for a variety of reasons. With a global scarcity of seafarers, it is more crucial than ever for shipping firms to keep the most excellent quality seafarers on board. The treatment of seafarers has been described as demeaning and frustrating.

As a result, the shipping sector must do a lot more to enhance its image, as well as the social (work-life balance) and economical elements that contribute to the lack of interest in a career as a sailor. Existing sailors should be encouraged to pursue a career in the shipping business. Senior masters and Chief Engineers may be asked to talk about their experiences and feelings about serving at sea. In addition, the maritime sector may begin negotiations with local communities. In order to recognize seafarers for their contributions to the advancement of human existence. Shorter duty periods on board, long-term contracts, greater or more frequent paid leave, social security, enhanced communications, including internet access, more humane treatment, and various other factors might all contribute to this.

Because of the weak provisional internet, seafarers have no social life
Because of the weak provisional internet, seafarers have no social life

However, as technology advances and the Internet becomes a more integral part of our everyday life, a brighter light emerges along the horizon:

For example, while the majority of respondents to the ‘Seafarers’ Happiness Index’ expressed dissatisfaction with a lack of Wi-Fi or poor-quality service at a high cost, many respondents reported that their companies had stepped up and provided either a better or cheaper service. The industry reaction is expected to spread to a wider range of people, maintaining talent inside the area.

Nonetheless, a career in the merchant navy is sure to provide a bright future, to all those who are driven and dedicated towards reaching their goal!

“Sometimes there can be a lot of reasons for not doing something but a single reason could be enough to change that, and this blog is all about that ‘one reason”.

-CE Praneet Mehta

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Osama Haider

The last quote is very motivating Sir.

suresh balai


Arpit Pathak

Sir what if after merchant Navy ?? Jobs on land or ? What