About Us

What are Seafarers?

A seafarer is defined as anyone who works onboard a seagoing ship.

Collectively, there are over 1.89 million seafarers across the world made up of various nationalities. These are men and women often spend up to 9 months at a time far away from their family, friends and loved ones. This can often lead to loneliness and mental health issues, with limited access to internet onboard ships.

Seafarers are responsible for transporting over 90% of the world’s goods and fuels, making them essential key workers who often go unrecognised by the general population.

Issues Faced by Seafarers

In addition to loneliness and metal health issues, many seafarers often endure money worries with the average Filipino seafarer sometimes supporting up to 15 extended family members at any one time on their wage alone.

Seafaring remains one of the world’s most dangerous occupations, with piracy, shipwrecks and abandonment all adding to the problems that seafarers face in their line of work.

A lack of facilities available to seafarers often exacerbates these issues. In addition limited access to external communications on board, there are also a limited number of ships with exercise facilities on board, although this is improving as new ships are built. In port, seafarers rely on Mission Port Chaplains to transport them to the nearest Seafarers Centre or local leisure facilities.

The Mission to Seafarers

The Mission to Seafarers is here to support the men and women working at sea when they need us most.

To compensate for the lack of facilities available, all of our Seafarers Centres, spread across 50 countries, aim to provide Seafarers with:

  • Access to WiFi Internet and SIM cards
  • A comfortable place to rest and relax
  • The chance to get food and toiletries
  • Transport to shops and local amenities

And it’s not just practical support the Mission offers. We know that seafarers need emotional and frequently spiritual support too.

That’s why we have a large network of ordained Port Chaplains who come on board ships, giving seafarers a listening ear and offering prayer, if needed. They can also connect seafarers to other organisations, or speak to them on their behalf.

Our mission is to care for the shipping industry’s most important asset: its people.

We are here for Seafarers.

The Visionary John Ashley

In 1836, the Revd John Ashley established the Bristol Channel Mission after being struck by the loneliness and spiritual needs of Seafarers.

Following his example, a number of Anglican ministries followed suit, and in 1856 they decided to set up an organisation. The Mission to Seamen – as it was known then – was made a missionary society of the Anglican Communion and its work grew in line with the rapidly expanding British maritime empire.

In 2000, the name was changed to The Mission to Seafarers to reflect its role as a society that cares for all seafarers, regardless of gender. In 2007, it became a company limited by guarantee. By 2010, all the assets and liabilities of the unincorporated charity were transferred into The Mission to Seafarers.

You can learn more about our back story by visiting our History of the Mission to Seafarers page.

Working in 200 ports and 50 countries

The Mission is open night and day, 365 days a year. We work in 200 ports across 50 countries, caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs.

Throughout a long and distinguished history, The Mission to Seafarers has grown to become one of the largest sea port-based welfare operators in the world.

Our International Headquarters in London supports over 70 front line staff and around 100 Honorary Chaplains. We also rely heavily on volunteers, who visit ships, drive minibuses and help us run our Seafarers Centres.

Without the help and support of our dedicated volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to respond to as many Seafarers as we do.

To find out which ports we work in, take a look at our ports page.

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