Category Archives: Partners

ICMA welcomes ISWAN

The establishment of the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network on April 1st, 2013, heralds a new era in the provision and promotion of welfare services to merchant seafarers.  

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network, to be more commonly known by its acronym ISWAN, is the response of international bodies and partners of ICMA to the changing environment of seafarers welfare.  The advent of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 later this year, the recent unprecedented pan-industry partnership set up to address piracy (MPHRP), a series of strategic reviews among key players in the welfare sector, including ICMA, The TK Foundation and the ITF Seafarers Trust, ICSW and ISAN, have all contributed to set the scene for more effective and contemporary vehicles for welfare provision to seafarers.

The International Christian Maritime Association made significant contributions to the establishment of ISWAN.  The Mission to Seafarers’ Reverend Canon Ken Peters was part of the International Committee for Seafarers’ Welfare (ICSW) review. The review workgroup recommended to the Presidium that an amalgamation of ICSW and the International Seafarers Assistance Network would be beneficial.  ICMA’s general secretary, Reverend Hennie la Grange, presided as ICSW’s chair over the final year of the merger process, and now assumes the position of first chair of ISWAN.

While the operations of both parent organisations, ICSW and ISAN, are seamlessly incorporated into ISWAN, the welfare sector will see significant changes.  ISWAN will inherit the valued membership structure of its predecessor, ICSW.  The alliance of faith-based and secular welfare providers, of labour movements and shipping companies, of kindred societies, governments and ports will be better served by a Board of maritime industry- and seafarers welfare specialists.  The Board will be accountable to the members. It will seek to collaborate with and advise stakeholders on best practice. ISWAN will initiate and support joint projects that would benefit seafarers based on sound research conclusions and stakehholder participation.  The crucial benefit of closer ties with SeafarerHelp, the 24-hour global and multi-lingual helpline for seafarers, is ISWAN’s enhanced understanding of the problems besetting seafarers, and improved access for seafarers to ISWAN’s membership network for referrals.

The merger comes into its own as a leaner and more efficient instrument for service delivery at a time when seafarers are particularly at risk and resources for welfare stretched.

Already, ISWAN has been able to attract new members among shipping companies, provides a new home for the Seafarers Emergency Fund and offers dedicated front desking for welfare providers like AoS Great Britain, the ITF and Nautilus.

The new organisation, as were both ICSW and ISAN, is registered as a charity in the United Kingdom.    It has the full support of both the ITF Seafarers Trust and The TK Foundation.

The International Christian Maritime Association values the achievements of both the International Committee for Seafarers’ Welfare and the International Seafarers Assistance Network.  Thinking back, we gratefully commend those opportunities for partnership that improved the lives of seafarers.  ICMA welcomes ISWAN.  We look forward to cementing our relations with all the members of ISWAN and will continue to collaborate with people who have the interests of seafarers, fishers and their families at heart. We pray that ISWAN would live up to expectations and the improvements to seafarers’ lives would be tangible.  

CLICK HERE for the press release on ISWAN   

Responding to emergencies and crises simplified

The Seafarers Emergency Fund was set up by The TK Foundation and is supported by the ITF Seafarers Trust.   The fund is used to provide immediate, essential aid to seafarers and the families of seafarers who are directly involved in sudden and unforeseen crises. 

Welfare organisations can apply to this fund when responding to people in crisis.  The fund will help responders to purchase goods and services to relieve the need brought on by such crises. A panel of advisers including Reverend Hennie la Grange (ICMA General Secretary) and Mr Douglas B. Stevenson (ICMA’s Chair and Director of the Center for Seafarers Rights) considers each  application in confidence and on its own merits.

Applications for assistance should be sent to the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN) and the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare (ICSW).

In the past the rules and guidelines for applying for a SEF grant meant that the process was not easy and that, as a result, it often took a long time to deal with applications.
The rules and guidelines for the SEF have now been simplified to make the application process much easier so that seafarers, or their families, who find themselves in trouble can be assisted quickly and easily.  The stringent requirements that applying organisations had to meet in the past have been relaxed and the administrative processes have been changed to reduce the time it takes to get a decision on a grant.

Applications will now go to  which is a dedicated 24 hour, 365 day per year administrative centre run by ISAN and the ICSW.  There is a 24 hours target to deal with applications.  However, transferring funds internationally normally takes a few days.

Applying organisations need to submit a report within 2 months of receiving the grant.   The report should include the receipts and an account explaining how the grant was expended.

Take a look at the Seafarers Emergency Fund page at ICSW.   Or, for more information, please email

Sailors’ Society and Gulf Oil Marine join forces to help seafarers

Ailton de Souza visits Nestor in hospital

Sailors’ Society and Gulf Oil Marine have entered into a partnership to offer support for seafarers undergoing treatment in hospital.

Gulf Oil Marine is providing hospital packs for seafarers undergoing medical treatment.  The hospital packs will be distributed by Sailor’s Society’s port chaplains.  The hospital packs contain a mobile phone with a SIM card to enable stranded sailors to make contact with loved ones and will include essential supplies such as a razor, soap, a comb and after shave.

Gulf Oil Marine said its partnership with the Sailors’ Society will be a long term channel of support to better assist the seafarer.  Keith Mullin, CEO, Gulf Oil Marine, said:

“The Sailors’ Society does a great job of looking after seafarers worldwide and we would encourage other companies to help them raise funds to continue their good work.”

Jan Webber from Sailors’ Society added:

“This is an excellent gesture made by the company, to show seafarers they are cared for at a time when they are far from their homes and families and feeling vulnerable and isolated.”

Tool to keep fit

“Training on Board”, a new website to help seafarers keep fit was launched by the International Committee for Seafarers Welfare (ICSW) this week.  The website was developed by the Norwegian Maritime Authority and is supported by the ITF Seafarers Trust.

The site provides physical training programmes for seafarers designed by a professional physiotherapist, Mona Woll Haland. The exercises can be done onboard and have been tested with the help of the Norwegian shipping company, Odfjell.

“Training on Board” hopes to inspire a healthy lifestyle among seafarers.  It helps to understand the link between physical training, nutrition, and fatigue.

The website has an online calculator to measure fitness.   It goes on to guide seafarers on how to start a programme of physical training to improve their health and overall well-being.  Seafarers can register on the site and record their workouts and monitor their progress. Seafarers can compete among themselves, and against other crews and companies to see who has done the most training and improved their fitness as a result.

The site addresses the concern that many seafarers are becoming unfit and obese. Torbjørn Husby of the Norwegian Maritime Authority said

“In Norway we are finding that seafarers are losing their health certificates as they have BMI’s of more than 35 and are becoming vulnerable to diabetes and heart conditions because of lack of exercise and poor diet.”

Roger Harris, Executive Director of the ICSW, said that improved fitness sits well with the soon-to-be-implemented ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). He said that the MLC emphasises the importance of health and welfare, and “Training on Board” encourages seafarers and shipping companies to actively participate in the fitness programme and learn about healthy nutrition.


Professionalism in delivering care

The International Christian Maritime Association commends its members’ chaplains on responding swiftly and with professionalism to the calls of the industry and our partners to help seafarers.

The ICMA Secretariat has, in the past few days received several requests from our partners and in one case from a shipping company, to deliver welfare services to seafarers in crises.   The calls for help included support for the next of kin of a seafarer who had been in a road accident.  In another incident the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme asked us to support seafarers after a piracy attack.  In yet another, ISAN asked us for help. In each of these cases the chaplains responded swiftly and professionally.

When called upon by partners and industry to help seafarers, even in isolated cases, the quality of just one chaplain’s response speaks for the whole Association and for faith-based care in general.    It is incidents like these that establish all ICMA members as reliable resources and valued partners.

Well done and thank you all!   Keep it up.

Ex-seafarer models new centre on ICMA

A general view of Aliaga scrapyard in the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, June 18, 2012. Aliaga is Turkey’s only ship-breaking yard where 21 Turkish companies operate to break down decommissioned ships for recycling. Picture taken June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

The first seafarers’ centre in Aliaga in Turkey’s port city of Izmir, opens today, Monday 21st January 2013.  The Pollen Seafarers Center is an initiative of ex-seafarer Captain Onur Hurmuzlu.   The Pollen Seafarers Center is modelled on Captain Hurmuzlu’s experience of ICMA members’ centres.  

However, there is little understanding in the region of seafarers’ centres like ours. Hurmuzlu says:

“Seafarers centers closest to us are seafarers’ centers located in Russia . These places are not like ICMA  seafarers’ centres.  Some of the agents cannot understand my intentions, because they don’t know what is the meaning of seafarers centers.”

He says seafarers’ centres are wrongly associated locally with profit-making clubs and prostitution.  But, in spite of limited local understanding for ICMA’s concept of centres that care for the welfare of seafarers, Captain Onur Humuzlu says he has been able to strike up good relations with the port and ships’ agents.

The Pollen Seafarers’ Center will offer the following services to seafarers:  Continue reading Ex-seafarer models new centre on ICMA

Directory a lifeline to seafarers

ICMA member the Apostleship of the Sea / Stella Maris has launched its first printed directory of port chaplains around the world. This directory contains contact details of the Stella Maris network.

In a statement released in London, AoS spokesperson John Green said:

The directory contains the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the Catholic maritime agency’s chaplains in 259 ports.  We have chaplains in most of the world’s ports, from Durban to Dubai and from Costa Rica to Colombo.  We believe providing details of all our chaplains will be a valuable resource for both seafarers and many others working in the shipping industry.

The AoS directory will be useful to the International Christian Maritime Association.  ICMA has a comprehensive online directory which reflects details of all our members’ operations.  The new AoS directory will, in time, be added to the ICMA online directory.

Over Christmas the ICMA online directory (available by clicking on the icon in this article and at the top of this page) has been updated extensively.  The update process is continuing.   ICMA’s directory makes every attempt at providing convenient access to all of our members’ stations, centres and chaplains at a single location in an up to date database.  ICMA’s directory is the only one that provides contact details of all our members’ seafarers’ centres and of our chaplains in ports where no seafarers centres exist.

Port chaplains, seafarers centres and other ICMA personnel and establishments are urged to check their own details in the ICMA database and to regularly inform the Secretariat of changes as they occur.

The value of the ICMA directory was demonstrated recently when SeafarerHelp searched for assistance to be given to seafarers in crisis as far afield as Chile, the Falkland Islands and Ukraine.

AoS’s John Green stated at the release of the new AoS directory:

Our chaplains are a lifeline for many seafarers when they arrive in a port. Seafarers know that they can trust and rely on a chaplain.

That lifeline depends on our diligence at keeping our contact details current.

Tom takes a bow

Tom Holmer retires at the end of 2012.  Friday December 21st is Tom’s last day at the office.  Tom is the Administrative Officer at the ITF Seafarers Trust.

Tom Holmer and Hennie la Grange

For the best part of the last decade Tom Holmer has been the human interface between ICMA, our members and their local operations on the one hand, and the trustees of the seafarers’ welfare charity sector’s single most important funder, the ITF Seafarers Trust, on the other.  Tom’s commitment to the welfare of seafarers informed and guided all relations between Tom, the Trust and ICMA.

He is a gentleman, a loyal supporter and a man of integrity. Always positive, always hopeful and always enthusiastic, Tom was once asked how he does it:  “My faith,” was his response.

Tom understands people: he is interested, always respectful, collaborative and constructive.  He can be counted upon to search for ways of reconciling differences, cement social partnership and  to find ways around obstructions.  Tom Holmer is an ambassador for unionism.  His belief in human dignity in the workplace is all too apparent.  He is an ally to the cause of justice. Tom is forgiving of insult and injustice directed at himself, maintaining his professionalism to a fault, but intolerant of the same when others suffer.

It has been sheer delight to work with Tom Holmer. I feel privileged to have worked with him.  I will miss him desperately.  A real character of the welfare sector takes his leave from the stage to applause from many of us in ICMA.

Tom is full of enthusiasm for the challenges and opportunities that now arise.  He looks forward to doing “something new, something completely different.”  Our prayers are with Tom as he sets out on this new phase of his life, while we thank God for his service to the welfare of seafarers during his career at the ITF Seafarers Trust.

App points seafarers to centres

The ITF Seafarers Trust has launched an application to guide seafarers to our port welfare providers. 

Shore Leave is an application with seafarers in mind.   On the Google Play website the app is introduced by asking:

Are you approaching a new port? Searching for the nearest seafarers’ centre? Looking for reliable transport to the city? Shore Leave is what you need. Store all seafarers’ centre contact details into your android phone, and keep them always with you, wherever you go. Once you arrive in a port, just switch on your phone webpage, open Shore Leave, and in a few clicks you will be able to get in touch with the nearest seafarers’ centre. Shore Leave works even without any internet connection.

CLICK HERE to see the app at Google Play.  You will need to connect with your phone to download it and you should have a gmail-account.

In other news from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, it was reported that the Trust is to review its operations during 2013:

ITF Seafarers Trust: “Dedicated to the spiritual, moral and physical welfare of seafarers”

In a statement announcing the review, the ITF Seafarers Trust said: Continue reading App points seafarers to centres