Continuity in care of seafarers

A tragedy onboard shows the importance of communication among chaplains

BBC Northsea
BBC Northsea
Paddy Percival, seen here with Hennie la Grange
Paddy Percival, seen here with Hennie la Grange

At the end of March this year, the vessel BBC Northsea put into the port of Durban in South Africa. There the captain requested trauma counselling for the crew. The ship was sailing from Cape Town to Singapore when a tragic accident occurred. Seafarer Denys Karpekin, who had recently joined the ship, was killed by a freak wave while working on deck. Three young seafarers, including one who had been working alongside the deceased seafarer, were especially traumatised.

Port chaplain Paddy Percival, of International Sailors’ Society, was one of those who provided pastoral care to the crew. After arrangements were made for the repatriation of the body, the ship set sail again for Singapore. Paddy contacted the representatives of the various ICMA member societies in Singapore asking them to visit the ship and to pass on greetings and prayers from South Africa.

Christian Schmidt of the Lutheran Mission in Singapore
Christian Schmidt of the Lutheran Mission in Singapore

When the BBC Northsea reached Singapore, Rev Christian Schmidt of the Deutsche Seemannsmission went onboard. He spent nearly five hours with the crew whom he found deeply affected by the accident. Rev Schmidt reports that the ship’s agent in Singapore had not been informed about the accident and was therefore unaware that the crew might need help.

The incident highlights the importance of networking. Our duty of care to seafarers does not cease when they leave our ports. Being able to contact known and trusted chaplains and welfare workers in ports around the world enables us to ensure a continuity of care. Paddy used the online ICMA directory to locate colleagues in Singapore. Please help us to help you to serve seafarers by ensuring that your details are correct in the ICMA directory.