SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A seafarer’s workplace is also his or her home, so the effects of problems like bullying and harassment at work can be worse for those working at sea than for those in shore-based jobs. When the situation on board becomes unbearable seafarers will often contact SeafarerHelp to ask for assistance with repatriation.

An Indonesian seafarer contacted SeafarerHelp from a port in the Netherlands. He said he felt intimidated by the ship’s Chief Officer who was ‘shouting and screaming’ at him all the time. The seafarer also said that he was not getting enough rest and it seemed that there were more issues on board, but due to his limited English he couldn’t fully express his concerns in detail. He was distressed and requested assistance to get out of the situation.

The SeafarerHelp team provided the seafarer with emotional support, and with his permission they referred his case to the port’s International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Inspector. The ITF Inspector was not available to visit the ship; however, he passed the information to a colleague in the Dutch branch of the Nautilus International trade union who agreed to investigate the situation.

Meanwhile, the SeafarerHelp team received further messages from another seafarer on the same vessel who confirmed that three crew members, all Indonesian, were in the same situation and wanted to be repatriated. The team reassured the seafarer and reminded him that SeafarerHelp was always available to provide support to seafarers at any time of the day or night.

Later, the team received confirmation that the vessel had been detained by the port state control because the seafarers’ wages had not been paid. Finally, the three Indonesian seafarers were paid and repatriated. The three seafarers sent a note to the SeafarerHelp team thanking them and expressing their appreciation for the help and emotional support they had received.

If you have a problem on board and need assistance or someone to talk to, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team confidentially – all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.

We rely on charitable grants and donations for our work with seafarers and their families. Help us support those in need worldwide by donating at Virgin Money Giving or JustGiving.

16 August 2018

73 seafarers have taken part in a hydration health promotion campaign for 28 days to assess the effectiveness of materials to encourage fluid intake.

We have published the results of a pilot hydration campaign on seafarers’ water consumption on board four Nakilat ships as part of the ‘Quench’ hydration campaign.

As part of our Seafarers’ Health Information Programme (SHIP), the ‘Quench’ hydration campaign aimed to provide seafarers with the right tools and information to maintain adequate levels of hydration, such as posters highlighting the ill effects of dehydration, urine colour charts and a daily log book to measure consumption of liquids. There is currently little research on the hydration of seafarers, but experience suggests that dehydration at sea can be common. Physically demanding jobs, working in hot environments, and conscious decisions to drink less if toilet breaks are inconvenient, are among the factors which can put seafarers at risk of dehydration.

Dr Suresh Idnani, an ISWAN trustee, said: ‘This survey provides an insight into the habits of seafarers and – in some cases – shows a lack of awareness into simple matters like why they must drink enough water to stay hydrated and to work well. To ensure health and safety, seafarers should be educated to understand the negative effects of “drinking less”: lack of concentration, headaches, fever and rigors secondary to urinary tract infections, itchy flaky dry skin, bloating and dyspepsia, maybe constipation.’

The key findings from the pilot campaign were:

  • The majority of seafarers participating in the campaign drank seemingly healthy volumes of water on board
  • Some seafarers are not drinking enough water over the course of their working day
  • Seafarers on board these vessels appear to be consuming very low levels of sugary and heavily caffeinated drinks and are opting for water instead
  • All ships showed an increase in average consumption of water over the course of the survey

Samir Bailouni, Nakilat’s Chief Operating Officer – Fleet said: ‘Qatar’s summer climate can be very hot and humid with temperatures ranging between 30-50 degrees Celsius and an average humidity level of 25-75%. This kind of climate creates a potentially challenging situation for our seafarers who may be exposed to these conditions whilst loading in Ras Laffan. Putting the safety and health of our employees at the top of our agenda, Nakilat is very focused on Heat Stress Management especially during summer season. Therefore, hydration is a pivotal element in our programme, whereby our seafarers are encouraged to know the major symptoms of heat stress and to drink plenty of water at regular intervals as a good practice to minimize the risks. It is heartening to observe significant improvement of habits among the seafarers as indicated by the survey. Measuring intake and raising awareness may be taken for granted by some, yet in most cases we have seen increased amount of liquid consumption over a 28-day period.’

The poster and urine colour chart from the study are available for companies or seafarers to download from the ISWAN website to assist seafarers in monitoring their own hydration levels and encourage companies to make sure drinking water is provided close to places of work on board ship.

The full report can be downloaded here. Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said: ‘ISWAN would welcome feedback on this issue, and any experiences of strategies which successfully deal with dehydration, from the seafarer or the employer’s perspective.’

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Quench logo

6 August 2018

Back in June, our Regional Representative in Nigeria, Afusat Eke, celebrated this year’s Day of the Seafarer over three days with seafarers in Lagos.

 

Saturday 23 June: Afusat joined Apapa Port Welfare Committee Chairman Aina Akinbola and Secretary Barnabas Epu on a ship visit to celebrate Day of the Seafarer with the crew on board. The crew was invited to a Sunday service the following day organised by the Mission to Seafarers.

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Mr. Epu (far left), Afusat (2nd from right) and Mr. Akinbola (far right) with crew

 

Sunday 24 July: The seafarers were collected from the terminal at the Port of Apapa and taken to the Anglican Church for the Day of the Seafarer service. They were then taken shopping at Apapa Mall.

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Afusat and Mr. Epu (far right) with members of the Merchant Navy and foreign stakeholders at the church service

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At the church service with Rev. Aduroja (4th from left) of the Mission to Seafarers

 

Monday 25 June: On Day of the Seafarer itself, local seafarers and relevant stakeholders attended a seminar held at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Western Zone Office in Lagos. A renowned medical doctor and a former engineer and seafarer well known in the Nigerian maritime industry spoke about the importance of seafarers’ wellbeing.

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Afusat cutting the cake at the seminar with Mr. Olayemi Abass (far right), Director of the NIMASA Western Zone

 

For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

We have developed a campaign to provide seafarers with the right tools and information to maintain adequate levels of hydration.

The ‘Quench’ Hydration Campaign is part of our Seafarers’ Health Information Programme (SHIP). There is currently little research on the hydration of seafarers but experience suggests that dehydration at sea can be common. Physically demanding jobs, working in hot environments and conscious decisions to drink less if toilet breaks are inconvenient are all factors which can put seafarers at risk of dehydration.

We ran a pilot campaign on four Nakilat LNG tankers which aimed to assess the effectiveness of materials designed to encourage fluid intake. Data on the drink types and volumes consumed by a total of 73 seafarers was gathered over a 28-day period. The full report and promotional materials can be downloaded below.

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Quench logo

We have partnered with MHG Insurance Brokers to launch a survey of seafarers who work on superyachts to investigate welfare issues specific to the sector.

The survey is anonymous and should take between 10-15 minutes to complete. It asks questions on food, cabins and communications, as well as the health and wellbeing of the men and women working on board. The survey has been designed to:

  • highlight areas of welfare needs among seafarers on superyachts
  • see what is working well under current conditions to meet their welfare needs, and what needs improvement
  • explore how existing seafarers’ welfare structures may meet these needs and where there is scope for new provision

Members of superyacht crew can answer the survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/yachtcrew.

The results will be published in a report on the ISWAN website in December 2018.

For further information, please contact:

Tom Holmer
ISWAN, Croydon, UK
Telephone: +44 20 8253 0163
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +44 7807 311852

Diana Gonzalez
MHG Insurance Brokers, Florida, USA
Telephone: +1 954 548 3581
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +1 954 232 2957

26 July 2018

ISWAN is partnering with MHG Insurance Brokers to launch a survey of seafarers who work on superyachts to investigate welfare issues specific to the sector.

Questions will be asked on food, cabins and communications, as well as the health and wellbeing of the men and women working on board. The survey has been designed to:

  • highlight areas of welfare needs among seafarers on superyachts
  • see what is working well under current conditions to meet their welfare needs, and what needs improvement
  • explore how existing seafarers’ welfare structures may meet these needs and where there is scope for new provision

A recent survey commissioned by Yachting Pages Media Group found that 75% of crew surveyed said that the industry is not doing enough to tackle mental health problems and look after the overall wellbeing of crew. The results of Yachting Pages Media Group’s survey can be found here.

‘Maritime welfare organisations are used to dealing with seafarers on cargo and cruise ships. The number of seafarers in the yacht sector has grown to around 35,000, and we need to know more about the challenges which are specific to the superyacht sector. As seafarers on superyachts are covered by the provisions of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention their welfare needs – at sea and ashore – should be better known and provided for,’ said Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN.

Andrew Dudzinski, CEO of MHG Insurance Brokers, explained their support of this initiative: ‘The welfare of all crew, but especially those who are insured with MHG, is a primary concern for us. The mental and physical health and wellbeing of these seafarers is not just a professional interest. We want to know better what makes them tick and how their time at sea can be improved.’

Andrew Wright, Secretary General of the Mission to Seafarers, who are assisting with the distribution of the survey, said: ‘Yacht crew do an amazing job, catering to a small but very influential clientele, providing a phenomenal level of professionalism and service. For most crew this is a satisfying and wonderful job, but we need to see where improvements can be made.’

Members of superyacht crew can answer the survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/yachtcrew. The results will be published in a report on the ISWAN website in December 2018.

For further information, please contact:

Tom Holmer
ISWAN, Croydon, UK
Telephone: +44 20 8253 0163
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +44 7807 311852

Diana Gonzalez
MHG Insurance Brokers, Florida, USA
Telephone: +1 954 548 3581
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +1 954 232 2957

For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

25 July 2018

A team of three riders will cycle 100 miles through London and Surrey this weekend in support of our work for seafarers’ welfare.

The team, including our Executive Director Roger Harris, will take part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 this Sunday (29 July) to raise funds for the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

The 100-mile route through the capital and Surrey countryside was made famous by the world’s best cyclists at the London 2012 Olympics, and 25,000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part in the event this year.

You can show your support for our team by donating via their pages below. Your contribution will support our work for the welfare of seafarers worldwide. Our team is:

Roger Harris: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RogerHarris10
Paul Cregg: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulCregg
Chris Jackson: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ChrisJackson42

Good luck to the team!

For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

25 July 2018

ISWAN recently took part in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia‘s (CGPCS) 21st plenary, held on 12 – 13 July 2018.

At least 60 member states and international organisations attended the plenary, which was chaired by the Republic of Mauritius as Chair of the Indian Ocean Commission and held at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya.

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) was represented at the meeting by our Regional Director for South Asia, Chirag Bahri. ISWAN manages the CGPCS Piracy Survivors Family Fund (PSFF), which provides financial support to seafarers and their families affected by Somali piracy. Chirag presented a detailed report to members on the fund’s activities and informed them that 10 applications had been successfully approved by the fund’s advisors, benefitting seafarers in China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

During deliberations held during the plenary and working group meetings, members acknowledged that piracy remains a threat in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean and expressed their concerns for recent incidents. They called on the shipping industry to ensure compliance with the recently published Best Management Practices (BMP5).

The CGPCS welcomed the endorsement of an amendment to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) by the Special Tripartite Committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), which ensures the payment of seafarers’ wages while they are held captive by pirates.

The members also discussed the new maritime threats emerging in the Indian Ocean affecting the navigation and safety of ships and their crews. The Chair and members applauded the efforts of ISWAN, ISWAN’s Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) and the PSFF to provide a range of support during and after captivity, and they recognised the need to continue supporting these initiatives. The CGPCS remains committed to the objective of ‘zero seafarers and zero ships’ in the hands of Somali pirates and urged its international partners to continue with efforts to release the remaining four Iranian fishermen on board the vessel FV Siraj.

While attending the session, ISWAN’s representative Chirag Bahri met with various delegates from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Panama, Norway, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other delegations to discuss the welfare of seafarers affected by piracy incidents, seafarers’ abandonment and contractual issues affecting seafarers’ mental wellbeing at sea.

We would like to thank all funders for their generous contributions to the CGPCS Piracy Survivors Family Fund and all partners extending their support.

ISWAN's Chirag Bahri speaking at the plenary:

CGPCS Plenary Nairobi 2

 For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

24 July 2018

The second quarterly report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) shows that all 2018 crew kidnappings have so far occurred in the Gulf of Guinea in six separate incidents.

A total of 107 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2018. In total, 69 vessels were boarded, with 23 attempted attacks, 11 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked. No vessels were reported as hijacked in the second quarter of 2018.

The number of crewmembers taken hostage increased from 63 to 102 compared to the same time period in 2017.

The number of crew kidnappings decreased from 41 by the second quarter in 2017 to 25 so far in 2018. However, all 25 crew kidnappings reported this year have occurred over six incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting the higher risks in this area.

Moreover, the true number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is believed to be 'significantly higher' than what is reported to the IMB PRC, says the report.

Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, said: 'The 2018 figures aptly demonstrate the value of timely and transparent reporting. The reports help to focus on risk areas, and to accurately inform vessels of evolving dangers and allow authorities to deliver an effective response.'

Fewer incidents in the Philippines and off Somalia

Outside the Gulf of Guinea, the number of 2018 incidents decreased in other piracy hotspots. There were no reported incidents recorded off the coast of Somalia in the second quarter of 2018. Masters are however again urged to continue to maintain high levels of vigilance when transiting the high-risk area and to follow the latest version of the best management practices.

The number of incidents in the Philippines dropped from 13 by the second quarter of 2017 to three in the same time period this year.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is also commended for the prompt and successful boarding of a product tanker which was under attack by armed robbers around six nautical miles East off Pulau Tinggi, Malaysia.

Fourteen robbers were detained for investigation and two were arrested in Indonesia by Indonesian Enforcement authorities.

The full report can be downloaded below.