Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Apostleship of the Sea Supports Stranded Seafarers

AoS Volunteer with Ship's Captain
For over eight months several seafarers have been stranded on two ships arrested in Shoreham-by-Sea and Rye, two ports in our Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. Sadly, a third ship belonging to the same company is arrested in Santander, Spain. The ships are arrested but the men on board are not. The trouble is they can’t leave because if they do, they fear that their unpaid wages – and they haven’t been paid for over 7 months – will never be paid. The seafarers come from Russia and the Ukraine and their families at home are really struggling and suffering. Igor, on the MV Independent arrested at Shoreham, is married and has two small boys. His wife has been borrowing money from family and friends just to put food on the table.

Ever since the ships were arrested, Apostleship of the Sea port chaplains and locally-based volunteer ship welfare visitors have visited the men on board to try and give them some normality in their life on board. The most important gift is the ship visitors themselves because the seafarers have been lonely and depressed. AoS has given phone cards, internet access, food, books in Russian and many other gifts. Volunteers have also taken some of the men to local attractions such as the Shoreham Airshow, local museums and also take them to Mass. AoS has raised awareness of the seafarers’ plight by giving interviews to local newspapers, national newspapers as well as local and national TV. The local port authorities have been very supportive, providing emergency water supplies to the ships. Local catholic Church groups have become involved and local residents have given help as well. It’s worth reflecting that even in the UK in 2013 seafarers who are a long way from home and are stranded through no fault of their own are so dependent on charity. Our prayer is that the men will receive their unpaid wages and can go home soon. But no-one can guarantee that.

To find out more or get involved, visit www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk or contact Reverend Roger Stone at rogerstone@apostleshipofthesea.org.uk or call him on 07963 345618.

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