Category Archives: Education

Introduction to Seafarers’ Welfare and Maritime Ministry – May-June 2018

Maritime ministries have undergone profound developments in the last generation. Those involved in seafarers’ welfare and ministry need to continue to develop professionally to help their work adapt to changing realities. This course gives an overview and discussion of key issues in seafarers’ welfare and maritime ministry. The course is designed for new chaplains, ship visitors and volunteers, but should also be useful for those who have experience in maritime ministry, but wish to sharpen their skills.

Course Director: Dr. Jason Zuidema, General Secretary, ICMA,


  • Online posted weekly online (5) – beginning April 25 online
  • In class one week Hamburg, Germany – May 27 – June 2, 2017 in class
  • Online posted weekly online (2)

Course Locations:

  • Dedicated course website link sent to students
  • Webinars (recorded on “Gotomeeting”)
  • In class – Conference room and excursions in Hamburg, Germany

Registration Cost: 450EUR

(includes 6 nights accommodation at DSM Krayenkamp Seafarers’ Hotel and meals May 27-June 2) **possibility of partial bursaries for travel costs, but not known until Spring 2018**

Course size: 25 students maximum


Seafarers’ Hotel Krayenkamp

Krayenkamp 5, 20459 Hamburg

Topics and lecturers: Dr. Jason Zuidema and various professors (international and local experts to be announced).

Readings: Short texts or recorded speeches given with each lesson.


Ship Visitor Course Rotterdam – Feb. 7-8, 2017

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-27-49-am-2The International Seafarers’ Center The Bridge in Oostvoorne (Rotterdam-Europoort) will host a Ship Visitors Course presented by Port Chaplain Helene Perfors on February 7th & 8th 2017.
This is a certified course of which the Port Authority of Rotterdam has unofficially announced that it will make compulsory in due time for all the ship visitors in the Rotterdam Port area.
A maximum of 12 persons can be accommodated.
The course will be on own account including lodging.
A small fee will be charged for meals etc.
If need be the ISC The Bridge can assist with lodging and travel.
Participants can subscribe at: or or phone at +31 6 53239530.

AHOY Course Manila

Photos of the course are available here.
A full copy of the program is available here.

Monday, 26th
– Philippines Port Authority
AOS Bishop Promoter of the Philippines – H.E. Bishop Narciso Villaver Abellana
Scalabrini International Migration Network – Fr. Mario Zambiasi
– Filipino History – Dr. Ricardo T. Jose
Filipino values and culture – Prof. Stella P. Go
– ICMA in the Filippines – AOS-Philippines, Mission to Seafarers, Sailors’ Society
Young Filipino men securing work and the future through ‘utility manning’ – Dr. Roderick Galam
Health and self-medication practices of Filipino seafarers – Dr. Nelson Turgo

Tuesday, 27th
– Filipino Catholic religiosity and beliefs (part 1 and part 2) – Fr. Mario Dominic C. Sanchez
– Other Filipino Churches / Faith Denominations – Dr. Manuel Victor J. Sapitula
– Overseas Filipino Workers – Romulo V. Salud

Wednesday, 28th
– Philippines: people of the sea – Fr. Graziano Battistella
Ecumenism in the maritime world – H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
– ICMA Sessions
i. Stuart Rivers (Sailors’ Society) – “Disruptive Technology and A Vision for the Future of Maritime Ministry”
ii. Lance Lukin (MTS Regional Director Oceania Region/Wellington Port Chaplain & Seafarer Centre Manager) – “Support for Chaplaincy: Learning from other Chaplain Networks”
iii. Jason Zuidema (NAMMA) – “ICMA and Future of Maritime Ministry
iv. Heike Proske (DSM) – Managing and Motivating a Decentralized Team: Lessons from the DSM”

Friday, 30th
– Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers – Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara
– Filipino seafarers, fishers, and their families – Ms. Rebecca J. Calzado
– Filipino seafarers and fishers on international waters – Mr. Hans Leo Cacdac
– Filipino seafarers and fishers in the global maritime industry – C/E Marcial C. Amaro III
– Labor concerns and legislative agenda for Filipino seafarers and fishers – Mr. Silvestre H. Bello, II
– Needs and issues of Filipino crew on board cruise ship

Regional Conference commits to priorities for ministry

The final report from the ICMA Regional Conference held in Odessa concludes with a set of statements by the delegates that underline the region’s commitment to caring for the welfare of seafarers.

The outgoing Regional Coordinator, AOS Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez Martos from Barcelona, Spain, wrote that the region was committed to pursue the following goals and priorities in delivering care to seafarers and families in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region of the international Christian Maritime Association.

  1. Port Welfare Committees: PWC’s are very important for achieving more efficient assistance to seafarers. The region’s chaplains would promote such committees in each port.
  2. Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme: In cases of emergency or of piracy, port authorities, ship owners and the ship’s agents should be aware of the important role that port chaplains can play in welfare response and first emergency response.
  3. ICMA Code of Conduct: To enhance ecumenical working, chaplains, volunteers and welfare workers from ICMA’s members should follow the ICMA Code of Conduct.
  4. Networking:  Being connected to one another benefits seafarers and should be an ongoing goal of all ICMA members’ personnel and centres.
  5. Cruise ship ministry:  Given that access to cruise ships is not easily gained, a short and simple directory of ports and welfare providers in the region would be produced and distributed among crews and crew coordinators on these ships.
  6. MLC 2006: ICMA centres should promote the ratification of MLC 2006 in those countries where it is not yet incorporated in national legislation,  and are urged to  collaborate in its implementation in all ports of the region.
  7. Ship visiting: Given the fast turnaround and workload while in port, many seafarers have no time to go ashore. Therefore, ICMA personnel should prioritise ship visiting
  8. Onboard welfare:  Chaplains could facilitate groups on board that care for the welfare of fellow crew members.  These groups could form informal welfare committees or prayer groups.
  9. Seafarers Rights:  Chaplains are encouraged to engage advocacy for seafarers rights

This ICMA Regional Conference was made possible by a grant received from the ITF Seafarers Trust.  ICMA thanks the Trust for its generous support.

CLICK HERE for the full report from the Regional Conference





 The Mission of ICMA

Membership of ICMA carries an obligation to abide by the Constitution of the Association and of this Code of Conduct.

The seafarers of the world remind us of the ultimate purpose of all God’s plans:” And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24,14 NIV). In a fragmented and divided society, it is ICMA ’s mission to promote unity, peace and tolerance. ICMA was founded for promoting and co-ordinating Christian ecumenical co-operation in maritime ministry.

Chaplains and staff of all ICMA Member Societies at local, national and international level are therefore to:

  1. Show an unconditional love to the seafarer as a human being, created in the image of God, and a sincere respect for her/his personal values and beliefs;
  2. Serve seafarers and their dependants of all nationalities, religions, cultures, language, sex or race;
  3. Fight prejudice, intolerance and injustice of any kind;
  4. Respect the diversity of ICMA Members and Churches and to develop that which unites them;
  5. Respect the loyalty of those engaged in maritime ministry to their particular ecclesiastical discipline and tradition and refrain from proselytising seafarers;
  6. Co-operate with persons, organisations and institutions, Christian or non-Christian, which work for the welfare of seafarers.


CLICK HERE for a printable version of the ICMA Code of Conduct

CLICK HERE for the French version of the ICMA Code of Conduct


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.

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.


We are connected

“Even if we do not meet in person in the near future, we are connected through the many seafarers, who tell about our ports and seafarers’ mission.”

Kerstin Schefe, DSM Stade

In her contemplation of lessons learnt and friendships forged at the Seafarers Ministry Training held this year in Barcelona, SMT student Kerstin Schefe of the Deutsche Seemannsmission remembers the closing sentiments of the 2012 SMT:  we are connected.  We are one worldwide support group for seafarers with as many ministries as there are Christian churches and as much diversity as there are traditions within our Christian faith.  We are ecumenically connected to one another by shared faith and common commitment to care for all seafarers.

Kerstin Schefe wrote:

With a slightly Irish accent now in my English pronunciation I am sitting in the plane and think about the past two weeks.

I traveled to Barcelona for the Seafarers Ministry Training 2012 – to meet 12 other participants form different missions and ports of the big wide world. And I met “parts
of the world”, learnt from them and received something from them – not only concerning my language skills.

Through topics like Pastoral Care, Concepts of Mission, Cultural Diversity, the work of different seafarers’ missions, Maritime Law, a Port Visit, Inter Religious Dialogue
and a visit to the maritime museum various basic themes of our work were discussed.

There was as well time for personal exchange, helping each other, developing new concepts for the own work and getting to know each other. Apart from good basic knowledge, a new idea for fundraising I took as well “small things” for the daily work with me. It is a good idea when coming on board not only to give the gangway watchman a friendly welcome but to start with a simple “Welcome to Germany”.

And I won’t forget the faces of the other seafarers’ missions with their various ports and the newly developed friendships.

Satisfied I look back and remember positively a statement in the Maritime Museum of Barcelona: “When we end a journey, we are different.”

And now I am sitting in the plane, already to missing the group while I start smiling unconsciously when a statement from our farewell round comes to my mind: “Even if we do not meet in person in the near future, we are connected through the many seafarers, who tell about our ports and seafarers’ mission”

Kerstin Schefe, Deutsche Seemannsmission, Stade, Germany

Africa trains seafarers of the future

With African economies bucking the trend and showing 7% growth, the continent is looking to become a significant resource of seafarers.  The initiative comes at a time of concern in the industry for recruitment and retention.

The South African government has taken the initiative in training seafarers and are recruiting students from Africa for its cadet schools in Durban and Cape Town.  The drive to supply seafarers for merchant fleets is fueled by South Africa’s understanding of its strategic maritime significance and its commitment to tackle unemployment.


Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga with the South African High Commisioner to the United Kingdom, H.E. Dr. Zola Zkweyiya with cadets from the Agulhas 1

Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga,  South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Transport, addressed an audience of shipping and crewing companies, ICMA welfare providers (including Reverends Canon Ken Peters and Hennie la Grange) and ICSW Executive Director, Roger Harris.

The reception was held on board the icebreaker vessel Agulhas 1 moored in The Pool of London.  Agulhas 1, South Africa’s trusted transporter of scientists to Antarctica, has recently been gifted to cadet schools and is reinventing itself as a training facility and trading platform.  It is set to transport the Trans Antarctic Winter Traverse to the southernmost continent.

Crewing the vessel currently is a team of enthusiastic young cadets from South Africa, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire.

“…Important is the role our country is playing in leading the development of an integrated African maritime strategy.  …The voyage gives us an opportunity to showcase South Africa’s potential as a seafaring nation,,” said Minister Chikunga.

ICMA is well placed to respond to the recruitment of African seafarers. The Christian Seaman’s Organisation’s Cape Town based port chaplain, Johan Smith, has developed training modules for cadets focused on seafarers’ wellness in collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He is delivering a pilot of the course supported by ITF Seafarers Trust.  The course helps cadets to cope with on board isolation by strengthening their resilience to the challenges of working in dangerous conditions and multicultural environments.  The course teaches coping skills, informs on welfare services available to seafarers and addresses the need for wholeness and spiritual support.

Seafarers’ wellness programme

Johan Smith, port chaplain of ICMA member the Christian Seaman’s Organisation has devised a wellness programme to train seafarers.   He is currently presenting a pilot of the training programme in collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town.  The training is expected to be eventually rolled out internationally.  

Johan Smith, CSO

Johan Smith conceived, initiated and authored the Wellness Programme. The finished product will be  witness to widespread collaboration within the international seafarers’ welfare sector.  Smith was given leave of absence by his employer, Christian Seaman’s Organisation, to develop the programme having appreciated its value to seafarers’ wellbeing. Most of the content is Smith’s original work,  but several of ICMA’s partners in the welfare sector have contributed,  including the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (content on piracy awareness, -response and -resilience), the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare (Seafarers Health Information Programme – SHIP – material), SeafarerHelp, the Center for Seafarers Rights and Seafarers Rights International.  The pilot programme has been developed and presented to cadets under the auspices of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and, it is expected to be accredited by ICMA for wider presentation. The pilot was made possible by a grant received from the ITF Seafarers Trust.

Johan Smith has written in the ICSW News of October 2012, explaining the scope of the Wellness Programme:


So, how are you doing?  …  Fundamentally, this is the question a wellness program asks.  At first glance it is a seemingly simple question, one we answer a hundred times each day.   But if you dwell for a moment and take time to answer, you soon realise that it is way more complex, and justifies more than a simple ‘I’m fine’ answer.  Fact is that each of us is complex, multi-dimensional, holistic and highly unique human beings.

So how about seafarer training?  Does it cater for seafarers who are complex, multi-dimensional, holistic and highly unique human beings … or is it one-dimensional, only focused on the practicality of how to steer a ship from point A to point B?
An old school of thought would argue that developing seafarers is all about developing the practical, technical, occupational aspects of who they are.  Other areas are often viewed as not important, even non-relevant and it would be argued that an individual is responsible for the development of the other areas by him-/herself.  

Continue reading Seafarers’ wellness programme

Register for the 2013 Houston Chaplains School

The Houston International Seafarers Centres and the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) have invited registrations for the 2013 Houston Maritime Ministry Training Program.

Houston presents an annual training program for recently appointed port chaplains.  This training program focuses mostly on chaplains in the ports of the North America continent.

The 2013 training is planned for February 13th to March 1st, 2013.

Reverend Dr. Ben H. Stewart coordinates the 2013 school.

See the ICMA Training and Education page for more information and a link to the registration form.