Category Archives: Year of the Seafarer

Seafarers are human too

Sea Faces 2Sea Faces 2013The IMO’s Day of the Seafarer 2013 campaign will reflect the human face of seafarers.

ICMA members have begun to participate by sending us photographs of seafarers plying their trade.  This photo is from Florin Garbea, Director of ICMA member LIFE International Ministries in Constantza, Rumania.  Florin himself visits ships and runs the local seafarers’ centre.  LIFE International will host this year’s ICMA Annual General Meeting in Bucharest.

This smiling seafarer affirms the positive attitude of seafarers who work to keep ships moving.  Seafarers are professionals. Seafarers are happy at doing their jobs.  Seafarers are a vital workforce.  Seafarers are real human beings.

Florin wrote:

Those pictures were taken in Constantza port this year, 2013, and remind us of the sacrifices that the seafarers make for all of us.  May God bless all seafarers around the world, their families and all the seafarers’ centres dedicated to the benefit of those who work on board.

The International Christian Maritime Association’s members continue to serve seafarers in every way we can.



With the recent announcement by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that “this year’s theme for Day of the Seafarer (25, June 2013) is ‘Faces of the Sea'”, ICMA invites you to send us images of seafarers. 

IMO explained that this year the theme brings into focus to the unsung heroes of shipping:  seafarers.  It aims to “spotlights the human face of shipping and the sacrifices that seafarers make.”

The IMO, quoted in , said that it would be inviting seafarers to:

“Take a picture of yourself, or ask a colleague to take it, from a ship while working at sea or in port in a situation that surprises, or that inspires those that rarely consider what its like to be at sea. Post to any of the IMO’s social media channels, telling us how many days you have spent at sea this year and why you posted this picture.”

Let’s spread the word and join the fun.

It came by ship, and we cannot do without it…



Our world cannot do without seafarers.

The International Christian Maritime Association thanks seafarers for doing a great job.

The members of ICMA pray for you always.

May you be richly blessed in performing your daily task.

May God keep you safe.

May you and your loved ones come to know the firendship of God.

We shall continue to serve you all as best we can.

We the chaplains, ship visitors, centres,  volunteers and entire faith communities in ports all over the world, appreciate the excellence and professionalism of seafarers as much as we understand the fragile humanity of people who live and work on ships.


We care about you, because seafarers matter to God.

A pastor supported by ship owners


Toon van de Sande
Toon van de Sande

In our series of articles celebrating International Year of the Seafarer, Pastor Toon van der Sande describes how chaplains and ship owners can work together for seafarers.

Every ship has an owner, responsible for the seafarers who work on his ship.

Inside the companies, people have to care for seafarers, as seafarers have to take care of the ship and eachother. Outside the companies, there are welfare workers and pastors. Most of them outside have no relationships with the ship owners. They don’t know them and they seldom meet. I think both sides have vague ideas about each other’s work. That is a pity!

I am a pastor working inside and outside the company. Outside because I am independent. Inside because I am a pastor working for a foundation that is 95% financially supported by ship owners.

Pastoral care onboard after a crisis
Pastoral care onboard after a crisis

I work as a flying and sailing pastor for the Dutch Dredging Industry, visiting their projects and ships abroad for 100 days for 100 days each year. The result is that everyone in the company knows me by name. I feel very welcome when I visit their ships, but also the head offices, having regular contact with staff and highest management. Based on that history, I am asked to join the ship when there is a crisis or an emergency: deadly accident, capsizing, piracy etc..

Onboard then I am a pastor, meaning not a lawyer, security-officer, agent, psychologist or company representative. Everyone knows how many people show up after a crisis onboard. They all have a job to do and are very busy. The day of a captain in such times is overloaded with meetings, investigations, writing reports and organizing a lot of things. Amongst all those people, I am normally three days on a ship trying not to interfere with all the work that has to be done. I am just there for the seafarers, talking with them when there is time and space and an urgency.

“How are you?”

And they tell me their stories about what happened, stories about responsibility and feelings of pain and guilt. Continue reading A pastor supported by ship owners

International Year of the Seafarer 2010

imo-logo-smallHalfway through the year, we reflect on achievements and challenges

Today we publish the fourth and fifth in our series of specially commissioned articles for the International Year of the Seafarer 2010.  As we reach the halfway point of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on what it means to ICMA and our members.

In a recent speech at the IMO Headquarters in London, IMO Secretary-General Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos called the Year of the Seafarer

“an excellent opportunity to convey to the 1.5 million seafarers of the world the message that the entire shipping community appreciates them and the indispensable services they render to civil society; is aware of the conditions under which they operate; shows compassion for the sacrifices they make; and really does care for them”.

The ICMA website abounds in stories of chaplains and ship visitors, port welfare workers and the staff of seafarers’ centres who embody that appreciation, awareness, compassion and care. The article by Rev Johan Smith, ‘A Port Chaplain’s Perspective‘ is one example of many. Continue reading International Year of the Seafarer 2010

A Chaplain’s Perspective …

Rev Johan Smith
Rev Johan Smith

Continuing our series of articles celebrating International Year of the Seafarer, 2010, Rev Johan Smith gives us a very personal reflection on his relationship with seafarers.

It was Leonardo da Vinci that said that all our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions. Perceptions are the way we see the world and are constituted in our being and doing. That said, often our knowledge is based on misperceptions or perceived ideas about how we think things are.

It was my first day as a Chaplain in the Cape Town harbour. I was excited and a bit stressed. In my mind I had a lot of perceptions about how the people of the sea were going to be. I admit this to my own shame, but my perceptions were worlds apart from reality. Continue reading A Chaplain’s Perspective …

A disgrace

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright

Chaplain Andrew Wright recently visited the Falkland Islands where he witnessed the contrast in conditions for fishers. While some are able to work in safety and dignity, others are less fortunate. This article is part of our series commissioned for 2010, International Year of the Seafarer.

In the Falkland Islands, it is the start of the squid season. The big Spanish trawlers are allowing their mainly Peruvian and Chilean crews to have a “run ashore”. Stores are taken onboard and health inspections are done by local vets. Such inspections are vital for selling the catch into the EU market. Conditions for the crew seem good and patterns of working civilised. Crews are alternated in the runs to and from Spain, giving decent time out to all. Continue reading A disgrace

ICSW announces International Seafarers Welfare Awards

icsw-awards-logoThe ICSW will shortly be launching the International Seafarers Welfare Awards as part of the IMO’s International Year of the Seafarer.   The awards are designed to recognise excellence in seafarers’ welfare.

There will be four categories:

  • seafarer centre of the year,
  • shipping company of the year,
  • port of the year, and
  • welfare personality of the year.

The first three categories will be nominated by seafarers. The fourth category, welfare personality of the year, will be awarded to a person nominated by welfare providers like ICMA or any of ICMA’s members.  Criteria for nominating such an individual will be published on an ICSW website dedicated to the awards.    The website is being setup to receive nominations and applications.

The winners will receive their awards from the IMO Secretary General at a prestigious event in London in late November/early December 2010.
Full details will be in the next issue of the ICSW’s monthly update.  The ICSW invites ICMA’s members to email to request  leaflets and posters promoting the awards.

ICMA supports the awards along with the IMO, ILO, ISF and the ITF.

The welfare of seafarers is top priority

Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust
Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust

Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust delivered this opening address at the 5th Regional Welfare Committee Meeting of the South East Asia regional programme on behalf of the International Transport Workers Federation and the ITF Seafarares Trust. We publish the text here with Roy’s permission as part of our series of articles on the “Year of the Seafarer“.

We meet in the home country of the largest single supplier of our world’s seafarers.  Approximately 330,000 seafarers come from the Philippines and this is around a quarter of the seafaring population.

Importantly we meet at a time when we have so many opportunities to unite together to serve not only these Filipino but also the Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese and all seafarers of the world.

The International Maritime Organisation has decided that this year be observed as “2010: Year of the Seafarer”.   The aim is to “pay tribute to the world’s seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they shoulder in the execution of their duties in an often hostile environment”. Continue reading The welfare of seafarers is top priority

Seafarers and Justice: a port chaplain’s story

Following our recent article by Canon Ken Peters on Justice for Seafarers, Rev Marge Lindstrom shares a real example of the role of port chaplains in defending the dignity of seafarers.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Blessing onboard
Blessing onboard

Offering hospitality and doing justice go hand-in-hand and are the cornerstones of the work we have been given to do. Ninety percent of the goods consumed in the United States get there through the hard labor of mariners who are largely overlooked by the general public. An important task for chaplains and agencies in ministering to those we meet onboard ship is to make those invisible people visible. Advocacy remains crucial.

Two years ago, as a port chaplain with the Seamen’s Church Institute, I was asked to visit a ship that was berthed at dry dock in Bayonne, New Jersey. We had received a call from the fitter’s sister claiming he had sustained a severe injury at sea and would we please investigate? Continue reading Seafarers and Justice: a port chaplain’s story