Spare a thought for seafarers this Sea Sunday, 10 July


The Dutch fishing vessel UK-272 and the container ship Käthe C. Rickmers outbound on the River Elbe
near Cuxhaven. See Wikimedia for details

The Sailor’s Society maritime charity is asking us all to remember the world’s 1.2m seafarers on Sea Sunday this 10 July.

Over 95 per cent of world trade is transported by sea, yet seafarers are often forgotten, and the society wants more people to recognise the hard work, sacrifice and isolation of seafarers, many of whom spend many months away from their families and loved ones.

The Sailors’ Society’s worldwide network of port chaplains provides support to a group who are often on the front line of issues such as piracy, poverty and tragedy. Seafarers and their families are offered help including provision of welfare, pastoral support and counsel, spiritual support, funding assistance with maritime education, and financial help when in dire need. Port chaplains also help with a variety of seafarers’ practical needs, in addition to conducting religious services when required.

Port chaplain Howard Drysdale, based in Aberdeen, Scotland, recently supported a Filipino seafarer who was in hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

‘When I introduced myself as the port chaplain, he immediately burst into tears,’ Howard told his charity bosses. ‘We chatted for a while, and then I went to the hospital shop to get him what he needed. I thought that he was rather missing Filipino cuisine, and so I went to see another ship in port with a Filipino crew, who kindly prepared a feast for him.’

The seafarer returned home for an operation, but sadly died some months later. In a letter thanking Howard for the care he had given, the man’s widow wrote: ‘Many thanks Father for all your support. It was so precious to be able to spend such a long time with him, five months – we rarely had more than two months together in all his sea life. He died peacefully in his sleep.’

The seafarer’s widow also contacted Subic Bay, Philippines port chaplain Jasper D Del Rosario and invited him to the funeral. Jasper travelled across the Philippines to attend and spoke at length with the family, who were very grateful for the tangible help that they had been given.