A Happy Ship

Have you been onboard a happy ship? It’s a kind of a dream to every seamen to be onboard a happy ship . As an ordinary person, you may have been onboard a happy ship. Did it ever occur to you if the crew is happy? Do they have a good and happy captain or is the sadness of the crew only hidden by their smile?


A happy ship may sound a little strange to any seamen that could hear it. But it’s the easiest term I could use to describe a good relationship between the captain, the officers, and the crew onboard the ship. Let us look back at the history of shipping. During the time were most seamen are not learned people and usually came from a poor family, they usually are hard headed and have a rough and tough personality.


That’s why Masters (Captain of a ship) are very strict, authoritative and stone hearted. His power extends to every corner of the ship and his words are laws to be strictly followed onboard the ship. But now it does not apply anymore. All seamen now are certificated, knowledgeable, and well skilled. From the time ISM was implemented, every person onboard the ship is well informed about his job description and the do’s and don’ts that he should follow.


The reason behind why it is very seldom to have a happy ship is because of lack of communication. As a leader you should influence the crew though human relation and communications. To be able to make the crew do what you want them to do and still like it. I’ll give you an example of a happy ship in the previous ship that I’ve been. I have a Greek captain and chief engineer, all the other officers and crew are Filipinos.

We are at New York and waiting for the US Coastguard for a Port State Control inspection and will be followed by a Vetting inspection. For the information of my reader it is a Product Oil Tanker Ship and was loaded with Diesel Oil. So from the time that the coastguard boarded us until the time they finished their inspection, they have this very good comment about us. They are very surprised that we are very cooperative, hospitable and the crew welcomes them always with a smile; and they said that when they met the captain they already understand why it’s a happy ship. Let me describe to you my captain in that ship.


He is strict when it comes to job orders, but he is a good listener, sensitive to the needs of the crew, talks and smiles, jokes a little, outspoken, funny, happy, motivated, flexible, positive thinker, open minded, knowledgeable, energetic, and has this very contagious laugh that when you hear it you would probably laugh too. In short he is a good communicator. I stayed onboard together with him for 13 months, and time passes so quickly every day. All of these qualities of a good leader apply not only to captains but to all officers and crew onboard the ship. Communication is a two way process. You should participate in making communication work.


A happy ship can only be achieved through good communication. Most of the seamen out there always relate communication with their culture. I know that it is very hard to establish a good communication if you associate it with your cultural differences. We must try to share our part to make communication work onboard the ship. In the long run, we shall all benefit from it.


How about you? Have you been onboard a “Happy Ship”? Share it from the comment below… We are waiting for your comment.

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