February 5, 2021

Participating in yesterday’s SMM ‘Open Stream’ entitled ‘COVID-19 and Seafarers’ Welfare: Lessons Learned and Prospects for the Future’, Canon Andrew Wright, General Secretary of the Mission to Seafarers, reflected that whilst the need to assist seafarers through the current pandemic crisis is the biggest peacetime challenge we have faced, it is hoped that it can be the turning point in addressing many of the pre-existing issues.

He also noted that it is fantastic to see how the industry is coming together to solve the problems arising.

Precise issues discussed included:

◊ Crew change and the urgent need for global co-operation

◊ Increased stress and fatigue brought about by a loss of one’s own destiny

◊ ‘Sea blindness’ – how the importance of the work of seafarers still does not get considered

◊ Families – the ‘secondary’ problems brought about by lack of corporate communication and uncertainty around the next contracts

◊ Partnerships – essential going forward

Moderater: Dr. Jason Zuidema, General Secretary, International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA)

Speakers:  Silvie Boyd, Port Chaplain, Le Havre, Deutsche Seemannsmission

Bruno Ciceri, International Director, Stella Maris, The Vatican

Canon Andrew Wright, General Secretary, The Mission to Seafarers

The speakers also shared details of their new working practices, being unable to offer the usual services, including:

◊ Distanced ship visiting at the gangway, shopping for essentials

◊ Digital working and internet one to one chats wherever possible – something that will certainly continue

◊ Family support in the Philippines and India in particular

◊ Advocacy for key worker status for seafarers as well as own staff in their supporting rôles

Thanks to ICMA and SMM for organising this insightful session.