Rotterdam’s port chaplain, Dennis on his recent ship visits amid the Covid-19 crisis

25th March 2020

With the necessary precautions, I was able to visit five crude oil tankers on Monday at Vopak Europoort and three container ships at Rotterdam World Gateway yesterday afternoon. I am using hand gel and wearing disposable gloves, keeping more than 2-metres distance, keeping only to the top of gangways and not going inside vessels. I am not using a face mask. Not only is the Dutch government not recommending them, I think – particularly at this time when being cautious – it’s important for seafarers to see our face.

Those I visited were absolutely delighted. One seafarer nearly cried when I told him I was the last Chaplain still visiting ships in Europe’s biggest port. They are anxious but lonely. Many have forgotten about them. All Seafarers’ centres and churches have closed. No one wants them, yet we want the goods they transport.

One Captain wrote to me this morning, saying: “thank you for coming on board in such difficult times.” When I go on board, my purpose is to say thank you, you’ve not been forgotten, we love you and so does Jesus.

I prepped some parcels with some cards, hats and MtS and Christian materials for each ship. I’m Keen to go back onboard again tomorrow if I’m still allowed. Just taking it a day at a time.

Security at both terminals was stricter than normal, but I was still able to get in. In my car journey to RWG yesterday afternoon, I was drawn to this passage in Luke 4 where our Lord boldly proclaims:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 

  because he has anointed me

  to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

  and recovery of sight for the blind,

  to set the oppressed free,

  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

It gave me tremendous joy to see such joy on the face of seafarers from such brief visits. Thanks be to God! Stay safe.

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