Category Archives: Partners

Twinning… or dating for seafarers’ centres!

The twinning of seafarers’s centres, a project currently run by the newly established ISWAN, was initially intended by ICSW to connect ex-Soviet Union centres with centres elsewhere in the world.  Set up to improve understanding of the the mindset of Slavonic seafarers, and to inspire hospitality to foreign seafarers in Eastern European ports, the Twinning programme has proven so successful, that it has been expanded to include the rest of the world.

Seafarers’ centre staff are supported to enable reciprocal visits.  Spending time at other centres that have similar needs and demographics, and that face challenges akin to those at home, allows for centres to learn from one another.    Centres are matched on various criteria.  The evaluation of the twinning scheme has been universally positive.  In some cases twinning of seafarers’ centres have gone way beyond the original aims of the programme, resulting in ongoing relations being established between the host ports and even the host cities.

Tatyana Tarasysk, manager of one of the two seafarers’ centres in Odessa, Ukraine, leads the project. Tatyana Tarasysk promoted the programme in a presentation at the ICMA Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference held in Odessa.  The aim of the programme, she said, was to improve seafarers’ welfare. “To feel encouraged when you see others struggling with the same problems.”

Tatyana related several stories and comments from centres that have participated. She urged ICMA centres to consider participating in the Twinning scheme.

Guidelines on who could participate and how to get involved are available on the website of ISWAN, the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network.

Nuture selfrespect to improve seafarers’ lives

“Seafarers are human.  They are not simply labourers nor expendable commodities.  Respect for seafarers, and seafarers’ respect for themselves, should be nurtured to enable seafarers to improve the quality of their lives.” 

Nataliya Yefrimenko, Odessa-based ITF Inspector, conveyed the warm regards of the ITF and its local affliliates to the ICMA Regional Conference.  Yefrimenko represented both the ITF and the ITF Seafarers Trust at ICMA’s Black Sea Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference in Odessa.  The ITF Seafarers Trust made the Regional Conference possible by awarding ICMA a generous grant .

Giving a short overview of the history of the ITF Seafarers Trust, its operations and current structure, and alluding to its strategic review, Ms Yefrimenko said:

The welfare of seafarers requires the partnership of all organisations with the wellbeing of seafarers at heart.

The ITF and its Trust is committed to assisting those who help seafarers. The Trust supports SeafarerHelp (the global 24-hour multi-lingual helpline for seafarers in distress), the MPHRP (the industry’s response to the humanitarian needs of piracy survivors), the HIV/AIDS Project (and other health and safety initiatives), mobility and communication initiatives (including mini-buses, shore leave issues, access to port welfare services and -facilities, Wifi and internet access, phone cards, etc.) and Seafarers’ Rights International, among others.

Quoting David Cockroft, she said: The ITF Seafarers Trust coordinates global work to meet the complex welfare needs of seafarers.  She added that Steve Cotton has said that the strategic review currently in process at the ITF Seafarers Trust, will be responsive to the welfare needs of seafarers as outlined by the MLC 2006.

Yefrimenko said that with 137 ITF inspectors worldwide and ICMA members’ coverage of more than 500 global ports, seafarers benefit from ITF and ICMA’s valued partnership. Our shared human approach to seafarers, settling disputes and solving problems and fulfilling needs improve the lives of seafarers.

She said: The future goal of the ITF Seafarers Trust is improved support for seafarers.  Not to leave seafarers in the victim-valley.  From our different perspectives we all help seafarers.  And, like ICMA chaplains, ITF Inspectors have a prescribed and limited role.

Yefrimenko urged ITF affiliates to  help improve chaplains’ access to seafarers.

Oleg Grigoryuk, First Vice Chair of the Marine Transport Workers Union of Ukraine also warmly welcomed ICMA to Odessa and the Ukraine.  Grigoryuk praised ICMA’s commitment to the wellbeing of Ukrainian seafarers in ports all over the world.

A lively discussion ensued after Yefrimenko’s presentation, demonstrating the dire need for more bilateral contact, discussion, debate and collaborative problem solving in the interest of  seafarers.  Chaplains were invited to refer suggestions for improved welfare provision to the ITF’s strategic review.

Award dedicated to the determination of piracy survivors

The Iceberg 1 crew “represent the spirit of seafarers’ determination to continue their maritime careers after this experience (of piracy)” MPHRP stated at its acceptance of the Sailor Today annual award for seafarers welfare in India. 

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme has been recognised for excellence in caring for seafarers after piracy.  The maritime community of India awarded MPHRP the Sailor Today Award 2013.  The Indian crew members of the Iceberg 1 joined MPHRP staff, Roy Paul and Chirag Bahri, on stage to accept the award to applause from the 500 member audience.

Roy Paul said, “We, tonight, with the support of Sailor Today, celebrate this crew and all seafarers who have survived piracy, and their families”

The parents of Chief Officer Tiwara were also present.  Tiwara did not return with the released crew.  He is still missing. The audience remembered those still held by pirates, and those seafarers who died in captivity.

MPHRP also assisted in the welcome home of seafarers to India, Bangladesh , Pakistan and Sri Lanka after the Royal Grace and Syrimi were released.

Roy Paul said: “This award is dedicated to all those seafarers who have been traumatised at anytime in their life by incidents of piracy.  We thank them, our industry partners, our funders, ITF Seafarers Trust, TK Foundation, Seafarers UK and IGP+I, and especially Sailor Today for this recogocnition”.

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) also lauded the Indian Shipping Ministry for its role in the release of the Iceberg 1 and the Royal Grace,  saying that no other government had done as much for its citizens held by pirates.  The owner of one of the the vessels had abandoned the ship and its crew,  adding to the trauma suffered by the seafarers and their families.  Many of the crew had not been paid any salaries during the captivity period.

MPHRP, with assistance of its partners, has provided for medical assistance to the crew on their return.  ICMA is a member of the industry alliance that is MPHRP.  We work with our industry partners to help seafarers and maritime families affected by piracy.

See more on MPHRP

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.

Pollen Seafarers’ Centre hosts its first guests

The Pollen Seafarers’ Centre, Turkey’s first, hosted its first guests: seafarers from the MV Islamabad.  Captain Onur Hurmuzlu proudly sent us these photos of seafarers enjoying the centre’s wifi internet connection, drinks, food and gift mugs.  You can see more pictures on its website .

Congratulations to Captain Onur Hurmuzlu and his team in Izmir!


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