Monday, February 7, 2022

Threats for Seafarers Range Far Beyond Those Caused by the Pandemic

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UK – WORLDWIDE – As the Covid pandemic attracts headlines of a different sort, it is easy to forget the devastating effect the disease has had on the health and welfare of the hundreds of thousands who earn their living at sea. The threats, dangers and stresses of life on the waves can be manifold however and a new initiative is aimed at assisting those who so desperately need help.

Support from the Sailors’ Society’s Crisis Response Network, a free service which has been running for six years, has received a boost thanks to grants from The Seafarers’ Charity and The TK Foundation. The main issue the Crisis Response Network team has had to deal with for the past two years is piracy, and the 37 trained crisis responders handle an average of two cases every week. Sailors’ Society’s CEO Sara Baade explained:

“Sailors’ Society’s Crisis Response Team is specially trained to help seafarers and their families physically and mentally recover following a traumatic incident, supporting thousands through difficult times every year. We offer front-line trauma care, providing for basic physical and psychological needs, recovery and rehabilitation, and ultimately we help survivors to reintegrate into their communities and back into their jobs.

“Importantly, it is not only seafarers who benefit from the Crisis Response Network, but their families and seafaring communities. We have seen this with the support we provide following a natural disaster like the recent Typhoon Odette or the humanitarian crisis emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re extremely grateful to The Seafarers’ Charity and The TK Foundation for their generous support, enabling this vital service to continue for seafarers in times of greatest need.”

Typical is the case we covered in September last year which saw five Indian crew wrongly detained in a prison in Iran for fully six months, putting both them, and their families, under immense pressure. Not only did the charity support them throughout but helped negotiate their release and repatriation. Many cases however do not even have the benefit of a state hierarchy to talk to, as Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of The Seafarers’ Charity, explains:

“Piracy rates are the top issue for seafarers using the Crisis Response Network. We have long funded organisations that support seafarers affected by piracy, which is an extreme example of the challenges seafarers face. There are, of course, many other difficulties at sea including abandonment, harassment and violence. The helpline remains a crucial pathway to assistance for seafarers that we are proud to fund under our strategic outcome of better working lives at sea.”

The network is managed through regional hubs and provides support 24-7 in a range of languages and can be reached by calling +1-938-222-8181 or by email at or indeed via this link where a webchat service is available. In conclusion Dennis Teleaven, The TK Foundation’s Maritime Program Officer, said:

“The TK Foundation is delighted to partner with Sailors’ Society to support their Crisis Response Network. The project is very much in keeping with the aims of our founder, J. Torben Karlshoej, to support the welfare and health needs of seafarers and their families around the world. We recognise that, with the pandemic significantly disrupting the lives of seafarers’ and their families, Sailors’ Society’s Crisis Response Network represents a vital resource in these difficult times.”

Photo: Crew of the MT Manaman held in Iran for six months shown here upon their release.