Winners of the 2015 International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards Announced

The winners of the 2015 International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards were announced on Tuesday 9th June during a high profile ceremony hosted by Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr Koji Sekimizu at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

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The winners are:
• Judges Special Award : Rev’d Ken Peters, Mission to Seafarers Director of Justice and Public Affairs
• Judges’ Posthumous Award: Mr Paul Karras, founder of Hunterlink Recovery Services
• Shipping Company of the Year: Eidesvik
• Port of the Year: Port of Halifax, Canada
• Seafarer Centre of the Year: Seafarers’ Centre Bremerhaven
• Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award (organisation): National Union of Seafarers of India
• Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award (individual): Chirag Bahri (MPHRP)

The Welfare Personality of the Year Award is named after Dr Dierk Lindemann who sadly passed away on 17 March 2014. Dr Lindemann served as the Shipowner’s Group spokesperson at the ILO and took a lead role in getting the Maritime Labour Convention adopted.

Congratulations to all winners and nominees!

For more information and photos, check out the ISWAN website.

Seafarer Welfare Organisations Call for Urgent Action on Rescue of Migrants at Sea

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Press Release – for immediate release 

14 March 2015

Three leading international seafarers’ welfare organisations, the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), are today calling on EU governments to recognise the key role of seafarers in the rescue of migrants at sea. They have sent a letter to all heads of governments urgently requesting that more resources are mobilised for search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

In the last seventeen months over 5,000 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Fortunately, merchant seafarers are responsible for saving tens of thousands of more lives. In 2014 seafarers aboard 800 merchant ships rescued 40,000 migrants. Their role in the large scale rescue of migrants should be recognised and commended.

However, EU governments are still relying on the kindness of seafarers and the legal obligations upon them to cope with a human tragedy of an unprecedented scale instead of committing sufficient resources to save migrants’ lives. Merchant ships and crews are not equipped or trained to deal with large scale rescues.

Seafarers are often risking their own safety and security in these large scale rescues. They are also facing situations such as recovering bodies and dealing with sick or injured men, women, and children that may have an effect on them for which they may need counselling or other forms of support. Seafarers are no substitute for professionally trained search and rescue personnel and they must not be used by EU governments as an expedient way of ignoring a difficult problem on the doorstep of Europe.

The three organisations have called for the EU governments to take urgent action to commit more resources to saving lives in the Mediterranean and not to place merchant seafarers in an unenviable situation.


A copy of the letter can be downloaded from here (Press release migrants at sea).

Notes to editors

The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) is a free association of 28 Christian not-for-profit organisations working for the welfare of seafarers.

The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) is the sole international association concerned exclusively with Maritime Health

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) promotes the welfare of seafarers world.

Contact details :

ICMA – Revd Richard Kilgour

IMHA – Dr Alf-Magne Horneland

ISWAN – Roger Harris

Statement by German Seemannsmission concerning Mediterranean Migration Crisis

Stellungnahme der

Mitgliederversammlung der Deutschen Seemannsmission e.V.


Nie mehr über Kinderrucksäcke fahren

In der täglichen Arbeit begegnen den Mitarbeitenden der Deutschen Seemannsmission immer wieder Seeleute, die durch die Flüchtlingstragödien im Mittelmeer besonders belastet sind.

Die Mitgliederversammlung der Deutschen Seemannsmission fordert, die aktuelle Flüchtlingsproblematik im Mittelmeer nicht auf dem Rücken der Seeleute auszutragen.

Besatzungsmitglieder berichten von persönlichen Habseligkeiten und Leichen, die im Mittelmeer treiben. Immer wieder müssen sie Menschen von Flüchtlingsbooten bergen. Das ist für Seeleute eine selbstverständliche humanitäre Aufgabe. Sie werden meist beim Umgang mit diesen belastenden Erlebnissen und deren Verarbeitung alleine gelassen.

Inzwischen haben Seeleute der Handelsschifffahrt schon mehr als 5000 Flüchtlinge gerettet.

Die DSM fordert: „Seht, was die Seeleute im Mittelmeer tun!“ Viel zu oft werden sie mit unvorstellbaren Erlebnissen konfrontiert. Kaum einer nimmt das wahr. Ein Seemann sagte zu einer Mitarbeiterin der DSM: “Ich möchte nie mehr mit meinem Schiff über Kinderrucksäcke fahren müssen.“

Seeleute und die DSM stellen die Frage, warum bis zum heutigen Tag keine adäquate Antwort der Politik zur Todesfalle Mittelmeer gefunden wurde.


Heike Proske

Generalsekretärin der DSM

Installation of Richard Kilgour as ICMA’s General Secretary

On Feb. 20, ICMA celebrated the installation of Rev. Richard Kilgour as our new General Secretary.  The celebration took place in the beautiful Protestant Church in Oostvoorne, NL, in the shadow of the Port of Rotterdam.  Many local supporters, a strong group of maritime chaplains and the ICMA ExComm were in attendance.

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Audio of the whole event can be found here.

A selection of photos of the event can be found here.

We were proud that the event received strong media coverage in the Netherlands and beyond.  A few articles are here: Nederlands Dagblad, Reformatorisch Dagblad, Brielsche Courant.


ICMA and the International Port Welfare Partnership Project

PWPICMA is pleased to be on the Executive Committee of the new International Port Welfare Partnership Pilot Project.  This project is a way to increase knowledge and use of welfare boards as set out in the MLC, 2006. These boards include not only representatives of voluntary organizations like those represented in ICMA, but all other industry, labor and government representatives that might be necessary to serve adequately seafarers in that port or region.   Many areas might already have boards that correspond to the intentions for welfare boards of the MLC, 2006, but others do not. This pilot project will help a select group of ports or regions develop welfare boards with the hopes of developing ideas and experience that could mean healthy welfare boards could be found serving ports worldwide.

As the voluntary society representative on the project executive committee, ICMA has been closely involved in the process.  We can now announce the launch the website. We encourage you to check out that website, especially the ‘voluntary organization’ tab under welfare providers.

With that website launched, we are at the perfect point, therefore, to get to know the project with our members and promote the idea of welfare boards per the MLC, 2006. Please check out the website and enter your details to show you are interested in knowing more!

ICMA ExComm Rotterdam 2015

The ICMA ExComm is meeting in Rotterdam for the next few days. Thank you to Chaplain Stephen Hazlett and his team for welcome at the Mission to Seafarers in Rotterdam. Thank you to Capt. Bernt Koning of the Nederlandse Zeemancentrale for organizing the meeting!

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ILO Meeting of Experts Concerning Convention No. 185


This week the Rev. Ken Peters (MtS) and Mr. Douglas Stevenson (SCI), went to the International Labour Organization in Geneva to represent ICMA in further discussions about ILO 185. Below is the text of Mr. Stevenson’s statement:

International Labour Organization
Meeting of Experts concerning Convention No. 185
(Geneva 4-6 February 2015)
Statement by Douglas B. Stevenson

International Christian Maritime Organization
4 February 2015

Thank you Madam Chair for giving the International Christian Maritime Association to speak at this important meeting of experts. Congratulations on your election to the Chair.
The world’s economy and prosperity depends on merchant shipping and merchant shipping depends on seafarers.
According to UNCTAD there are 39,770 ships over 1,000 gross tons in the world’s merchant fleet. The fleet is expected to grow to 69,000 ships by the end of the decade. The need to recruit and retain enough skilled seafarers to operate the vessels needed to sustain commerce remains shipping’s biggest challenge. All of us who depend on shipping must help make seagoing careers attractive options for skilled men and women.
The MLC, 2006 and ILO-185 are designed to improve seafarers’ living and working conditions and, if widely implemented, will go a long way towards making seagoing careers attractive.
The MLC, 2006 recognizes the importance of seafarers’ shore leave and their having access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association’s 28 member organizations operating in 126 countries provide the vast majority of the onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services contemplated by the MLC, 2006.
ILO-185 provides the means to facilitate seafarers’ shore leave and access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association, therefore, strongly applauds and supports efforts by nations and social partners to develop measures that will encourage wider ratification and implementation of ILO-185.
An important feature of ILO-185 is Article 6, which provides for countries to allow shore leave to seafarers holding valid Seafarer Identity Documents – without their having to also have a visa.
One of the International Christian Maritime Association member organizations has, since 2002, conducted annual surveys of shore leave denials in the United States. According to the data collected in recent years by port chaplains in ports around the United States, about 10% of the foreign seafarers on ships arriving at United States ports were denied shore. Of the 10% who were denied shore leave, about 90% of them were denied shore leave because they did not have a visa. (The United States requires seafarers and aircrews to have a D-1 crewmember visa as a condition of entry.)
If anyone wants a copy of the most recent survey please let me or Ken Peters know.
Ratification of ILO-185 by the United States could certainly improve shore leave opportunities for seafarers in United States ports – provided that the seafarers have valid Seafarers Identity Documents.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, few nations have issued to their seafarers valid Seafarers’ Identity Documents that could serve as a substitute for a visa.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend amendments to ILO-185 that will facilitate its implementation.
In addition to facilitating shore leave and access to onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services, ILO-185 has the potential to greatly enhance security for seafarers and shipping. ILO-185 Seafarer Identity Documents will verify that the holders are legitimate seafarers who are entitled to the recognition and respect they deserve.
ILO-185 Seafarers Identity Documents will also identify seafarers as vital members of maritime security teams ,and they will help protect them from others who might pose as seafarers to do them and others harm.
ILO-185 is a very important convention for seafarers. It has the potential to provide seafarers greater protection and recognition, and it will help make seagoing careers more attractive options for skilled men and women by facilitating their access to onshore welfare facilities and shore leave.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend measures that will encourage more countries to ratify ILO-185 and enable countries to implement it without reducing security or seafarers’ protections.
The International Christian Maritime Association delegation is here to assist the Meeting of Experts in any way that it can.