A selection of reports from a fraction of the 200+ ports across 50 countries that the Mission to Seafarers works in.
The Mission to Seafarers works tirelessly to provide the 1.5 million global seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs with help and support in over 200 ports in 50 countries. Through ship visits, drop-in seafarers’ centres and a range of in-person, online welfare, and emergency support services, we meet seafarers at their point of need.
This month, we bring you a variety of reports from our port chaplains who look after the shipping industry’s most important asset: its people.
Bangkok, Thailand – September
In September, The Revd. Dave Hinay continued to do ship visits at Bangkok Port and deliver online assistance to seafarers. In Thailand, shore leave was still restricted, and seafarers did not have an exact date for when they would be permitted to go ashore. Mission in Bangkok is working to get the latest information from the government and port authorities about these restrictions.
Nevertheless, Revd. Dave and his team were able to assist with four cases of seafarers’ welfare online. Two of the cases were regarding medical certificate renewal for foreign crews going to sign off in Thailand. The other two cases involved medical assistance and a request for a medical check-up due to an accident on board; Revd. Dave and his team reminded seafarers of their rights and the procedures to follow onboard.
Southampton, UK – September
The Revd. James Mosher, who joined the Mission in September shared what a pleasure and privilege it has been to be the new Port Chaplain in Southampton, thanking God for the first month in the post while working with a fantastic team of volunteers.
September was a month of firsts for The Revd. James. He prayed with a Filipino crew member after discussing his home and the challenges he faces. He recalls that it was moving to pray without a prayer book on the spot, in a personal, direct way, as vehicles were loaded on and off the ship and officers and crew milling around.
Yokohama, Japan – October
Port Chaplain and Rector of Yokohama Christ Church (YCC), Revd Andrew Dangerfield, was delighted to be joined on a ship visit by one of the US Navy chaplains based in Yokosuka who contributes to services on occasion. Revd. Andrew was also pleased to report that the annual Christmas gift campaign received a positive response, not only from YCC members but also from parishes within the Yokohama Diocese.
Antwerp, Belgium – October
The Revd. June Mark Yanez, Port Chaplain in Antwerp, shared how the team had contact with crews working onboard inland or river ships in October. Highlighting the growing number of sea and ocean-sailing seafarers who are transferring to jobs with higher wages, and a two-week onboard and two-week off work schedule provided by their employers.
Revd. June also emphasised the perennial problem of shipping companies or masters failing to issue shore leave citing Covid-related reasons. One crew member commented: “Ship owners and operators can certainly arrange and schedule loading and unloading in a way that seafarers will not be overburdened and will have time to ashore, but they are not doing it”.
Many short-distance shifts involving loading-unloading operations leave seafarers exhausted, with no time or energy to step on land and relax outside the port premises. Revd. June stressed the importance of striking a balance between meeting quotas and caring for crews’ mental health and well-being.
Tuticorin, India – October
In October, The Revd. Canon Stephen Thanapaul shared stories of ship visits with friendly and welcoming seafarers. Many of the crew members were eager to disembark and go ashore. Unfortunately, they, like many others, lacked shore passes. Revd. Stephen and his team took orders for items such as medicine which they delivered the next day.
When visiting a Filipino crew, they were pleased to learn of MtS’s support for them on board and their families back home via the Family Support Network (FSN). Tom O’Hare, Programme Manager for MtS IHQ visited Tuticorin and surveyed to solidify the FSN in and around Tuticorin. Since its inception in 2016, the Philippines’ FSN has grown significantly and now supports more than 4,000 seafarers and their families. There is a demand for FSN services to grow and support more seafaring families living in vulnerable communities at risk of social and economic insecurity.
Find out more about how the Family Support Network (FSN) programme brings together seafaring families from across the globe here.