“If this had to happen to us, we’re glad it happened here.”
So said the crew of the M/T Newlead Granadino to the Rev. Mary Davisson, Executive Director and Port Chaplain at the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center (an MtS affiliate), when the vessel was finally docked in mid-January after four months at a Baltimore anchorage. (The Port of Baltimore is about an hour from Washington, D.C.) Since first learning of the vessel’s engine and financial issues in September, BISC stayed in communication with International Transport Workers Federation’s hard-working inspector Barbara Shipley, Coast Guard officers, Seafarers International Union Port Agent Elizabeth Brown, and other port partners.
One of Davisson’s first calls last fall was to Mission to Seafarers Asst. Director of Advocacy and Regional Engagement Ben Bailey, who was very helpful in explaining how MtS might be able to help BISC supply emergency provisions, as the crew of 18 was then virtually out of food and water at their anchorage. Fortunately, Shipley was quickly able to address the provisions problem through the manning agency and an interim ship management company hired by the bank.
Meanwhile, offers of help poured in from the entire Baltimore community. BISC’s ecumenical team of volunteers shopped for everything from rosaries to toothpaste to top-up cards to thermal underwear. (The vessel’s boiler was broken, and there was some delay in getting safe space heaters on board.) Believe Wireless Broadband (BISC’s own internet provider) supplied free internet. Apostleship of the Sea donated a television and other items. Seafarers International Union kindly stored and sorted numerous donations of warm clothing and food from the wider community, and Brown worked closely with Shipley in addressing crew needs. McAllister Towing, the Maryland Pilots, and Vane Brothers facilitated delivery of supplies and visits to the anchorage. So far, Davisson has been able to visit the crew nine times at anchorage and at the dock, offering prayers, delivering donations, and checking on crew welfare.
Wages were brought up to date, and twelve of the original eighteen have now been repatriated. One of these was the captain, who emailed to Davisson, “A big thank you to the whole community of Baltimore”!