AP Moller-Maersk has admitted that abusive behaviour among its seafarers is a “problem”.

The Danish container ship company said it has begun interviewing 350 female crew members to find out the extent of the issue on its ships.

The Danish government has also ordered an investigation after stories of abuse came to light.

Danish broadcaster DR has previously reported how a female cook on one ship received several text messages from the master, including an invitation to send photos of herself after she had taken a bath.

When she complained to management, she was encouraged to arrange a meeting with the captain herself and talk things through, DR said.

Maersk’s chief fleet & technical officer, Palle Laursen, told the broadcaster this week that he did not want to put a “concrete” figure on how many cases are being investigated.

“But enough for us to acknowledge that we have a problem,” he added.

Maersk is trying to implement a culture change on board, as well as starting training courses for seafarers and providing a 24-hour phone line.

Denmark’s minister of trade & industry, Simon Kollerup, has asked the Danish Maritime Authority to investigate working conditions on board Maersk’s Denmark-flag vessels.

“You should not go to work and experience that you are being violated or bullied. And what we have witnessed in this case is quite terrible. It is entirely appropriate to ask for such a study, and we will then start it,” Kollerup told DR.

“Of course, a study is not a medicine for this problem, but it is a mapping where we find out how widespread this is and where to intervene.”