COVID-19: HOW WE ARE SUPPORTING SEAFARERS
09 June 2020
Stella Maris chaplains
continue to provide support to seafarers, fishers and their families during the Covid-19 crisis, working in close partnership with Stella Maris colleagues around the world, the maritime industry, trades unions and others.
This includes undertaking port visits in order to provide welfare packages and other support to seafarers and fishers, with the permission of port authorities and in full compliance with Government directives. We also continue to support seafarers, fishers and their families via telephone social media.
continue to pray for seafarers, fishers, their families and the mission of Stella Maris.
How we are supporting Seafarers in the UK
Fishermen Samuel and Isaac on a boat fishing out of Fraserburgh contacted our Northeast of Scotland port chaplain Rev Doug Duncan for a top up, not a telephone top up but a Holy Water top up. The men had run out of Holy Water on their latest trip out to sea and contacted Doug. The seafarers sprinkle their boat and cabins before leaving port each trip. Doug made sure they got their top up as soon as possible because they normally only have a two to three-day window before their next 14-day trip. Stella Maris was recently contacted by a representative from Arklow Shipping who asked if we could help with offering the crew of the Arklow Mill, currently in dry-dock in Swansea, a day-away from their ship. The company said it was important that the crew be given the opportunity to walk on dry land and to enjoy being ashore. So Stella Maris sent two vehicles to assist with transporting the seafarers around, led by Fr Paul Osunyikanmi our regional port chaplain from Milford Haven who was assisted by Dai Garland. All social distancing and health and safety measures were adhered to given the current restrictions in place. Earlier in June, news arrived of the sudden death of a crew member on board the MV The World which is docked in Falmouth Port. The ship’s senior staff and the port authority contacted John Pinhay, our port chaplain there to ask whether Stella Maris would be able to provide spiritual and pastoral support to the crew. Our Director of Chaplaincy Fr John Lavers and the new port chaplain for Southampton and the Southern Ports, Gregory Hogan, travelled to Falmouth to meet some of the crew who were clearly shaken by the sudden death of their beloved shipmate. Wearing the appropriate PPE gear and taking exceptional precautions, Fr John and Gregory boarded the ship and met with crew members. Around 25-30 crew assembled in the ship’s chapel for a simple Liturgy of the Word led by Fr John which was followed by several individual blessings. Additionally, private quarters and workspaces were also blessed with prayers and holy water. Faith materials were arranged in the chapel for the all the crew to take and use as they wish. The rosary beads were particularly popular. Our Tyne port chaplain Paul Atkinson delivered care packages to the crew of the ship Thun Grace at the Port Of Blyth, ensuring all social distancing rules were adhered to. He was also able to have a quick conversation with one of the seafarers to ask how he and other crew were coping. Thanks Paul for ensuring seafarers are not forgotten, especially during this pandemic. Our Tilbury port chaplain Wojciech Holub delivered care packages to the crew of Vasco Da Gama docked in Tilbury. The crew had asked for rosaries and faith materials that can be used on board in the newly created prayer room. Wojciech was accompanied by Ruth Campbell, a ship visitor at Tilbury Seafarers’ Centre who helped download our weekly gospel reading and prayer videos so that the crew could watch these on board. Catholic crew on board can also follow mass online. The care packages contained copies of Stella Maris magazine for seafarers, Magnificat, prayer cards as well as sweets. Huge thank you to the wonderful parishioners in North East England who ensure seafarers are not forgotten during this pandemic. They donated these lovely items which went into welfare bags for seafarers coming into the Tees and Hartlepool. As the seafarers are staying on board for longer due to not being able to get home caused by lockdowns, our Tees port chaplain Deacon Peter Barrigan and his team are finding that the seafarers are running short of personal items especially toiletries so they are more than happy to receive the gifts. The crew of this ship were desperate for a visit recently at Thamesport Isle of Grain after several weeks on board so our Medway & Dover port chaplain John Fogarty took them much needed data cards to contact home and of course his prayers and blessings. A very appreciative crew. A lovely thank you note from the captain of the Eco Invictus sent to our ship visitors in Tees Hugh and Mary Ward who helped get the crew top up phone cards. The ship was heading for Morocco and they contacted Hugh and Mary to help them stay in touch with their families. Our Felixstowe port chaplain delivered face masks to seafarers on Miriam, bosun Michael requested purchase of chilli flavoured Doritos and multivitamins. Promptly carried out and delivered within the hour! They must like Doritos! Communicating with family back home has become so much more crucial in the past few months for many seafarers as they seek to reassure family members that they’re keeping well and safe and vice versa. So when our Medway & Dover Senior Regional Port Chaplain John Fogarty received a request from the crew of Luenho for phone cards, he made sure there was plenty of cards to go round. Care packages all set to be delivered to seafarers in Milford Haven by our port chaplain Fr Paul Osunyikanmi. Thanks to all who donated them. Our Immingham port chaplain Bryony Watson recently delivered some welfare packages to seafarers in port. This is one of the crew members from Arklow Day who was very grateful to receive a package. He has been onboard for 5 months and was due to be going home next month but will probably have his contract extended. Seafarers from Suecia Seaways in Felixstowe were desperate for SIM cards., so our port chaplain there Julian Wong took them cards and some welfare packs. The cook also asked Julian to shop for some Polish sausages on their behalf as they were not able to go ashore which was duly bought and delivered . Over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd May, our Medway & Dover port chaplain John Fogarty took 17 SIM cards to the crew of MV Wuhu in Norfleet port. The men needed some SIM cards as they had been at sea for 40 days and were desperate to contact their families as soon as they arrived in port. Needless to say they were absolutely delighted to receive the cards. These were delivered to the crew on the ship using a bucket and rope, observing all social distancing measures and the necessary precautions. Seafarers on Navios Indigo recently contacted our East Anglia port chaplain Julian Wong when they arrived at Felixstowe Port. They were desperate for sim cards as they needed to get in touch with their loved ones back home. After getting the green light to visit their ship, Julian delivered the sim cards to the gangway along with care packages containing items such as chocolates, biscuits, religious resources and Stella Maris resources. All these were received with great delight and thanks. Many thanks also to everyone who contributed the items to make up the care packages. Jun Li Barnett, one of our Tees ship visitors, has recorded a message of support for all Chinese seafarers. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/…/jun-li-barnett-message-to-seafarers. The English translation is as follows: “Hello to all Chinese Seafarers. We are ship visitor volunteers with Stella Maris and we want you all to know we are thinking of you all as you sail around the world delivering cargoes to keep all the countries supplied. We want to say a big thank you and to say how very grateful we are for all you do. We hope that you and your families are all well and we wish you safe journeys and if any of you require help or advice please contact us through our web site. Thank you all once again.” Tulips in Tilbury. Some weeks ago a Dutch ship captain and friend of Wojciech Holub’s, our Tilbury port chaplain, brought him some tulip bulbs which Wojciech planted at the seafarers centre. Here’s what they look like now – absolutely gorgeous! The seafarers centre remains shut at the moment so Wojciech has dedicated the flowers to Our Lady and to the amazing staff who work at the centre.
Our Clyde port chaplain Deacon Joe O’Donnell recently took food supplies to some foreign fishermen who work in the Ayrshire Coast as things were getting tight for them. While down there he met a couple of fishermen who told him they were desperate for a bike. Joe says, “It’s wonderful how the Holy Spirit works as I had my spare bike in the car which I gifted them. I will continue to support these guys in the coming weeks.”
Most seafarers are used to being away from family and friends for months at a time and being confined to their ship and to the port area. It’s all part of life at sea and the job they do, as our East Anglia port chaplain Julian Wong reminds us in this video. But now many have to spend weeks in quarantine when they get to the end of their contracts and return home, adding to the wait to see their loved ones
Stella Maris supporters in Southampton, Myra and her husband Deacon Andy Philpott offer a message of hope to seafarers. It is addressed in English and Filipino to seafarers who may be experiencing distress and to encourage anyone in need of help to contact one of our port chaplains.
Here’s a look at how our some of our Stella Maris colleagues
globally are supporting seafarers and fishers in spite of the restrictions placed on ship visiting and the fast-moving situation of the Covid-19 virus.
A lovely Mass celebrated by Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris) Australia Bishop Promoter especially for chaplains, centre managers, ship visitors, committee members and volunteers – in essence the carers who care for seafarers.
Good work from our Stella Maris colleagues in Charleston, South Carolina who delivered some shopping to these crew who needed to top up on supplies. The seafarers were not allowed shore leave due to restrictions duirng Covid-19. Stella Maris Kaohsiung port chaplain Fr Yance Guntur and volunteers packing face masks for distribution to fishermen. Fr Yance later went on board several vessels to distribute the masks. Thank you everyone who’ve helped keep fishermen safe during this time. Great work from our Stella Maris colleagues in Kaohsiung Taiwan distributing face masks to fishermen. Well done all.
Filipino seafarers in lockdown in our Stella Maris Seafarers Centres in Manila during Covid show their appreciation and gratitude to Caritas Manila and Caritas International for providing much-needed food supplies etc. Thank you for your amazing generosity!
Stella Maris Abidjan port chaplain Fr Celestin Ikomba and his team distributed face masks and prayer cards to seafarers recently. Free wifi is also available to them. Our Stella Maris colleagues in Belgium ship visiting, taking all necessary precautions and social distancing measures.