ISWAN's relay team of Per Gullestrup (Chair of Trustees), Torbjorn Husby (Trustee) and Roger Harris (Executive Director) completed the Olympic Distance in the London Triathlon on Saturday 8 August in a time of 3hr 8 minutes. Torbjorn swum 1500 meters, Per cycled 40 kms, and Roger ran 10kms.

Roger said "It was a hot afternoon but we were overtaking teams with people half our age in them". The team finished in 261 place out of 403. The team are already looking at entering the 2016 event with the target time of below 3 hours. They are also going to challenge other organisations in the maritime industry to enter.

The team aim to raise £4000 for ISWAN. To sponsor them please go to

The boards of the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) are pleased to announce the moving of the activities of the MPHRP into ISWAN. A transfer agreement was signed by both parties on 3 August 2015. ISWAN will now be responsible for all the activities of the highly respected MPHRP. The move to ISWAN will enable the programme to develop under the auspices of a well-established international seafarers' welfare organisation that is registered as a charity.

The programme will continue to support the seafarers and their families who are affected by piracy. While piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia have significantly decreased, attacks are on the increase in South East Asia and continuing in the Gulf of Guinea. The MPHRP programme will concentrate on these areas while still supporting seafarers who were held for years in Somalia. The programme will seek to develop constructive and positive relationships with existing and new industry partners.

ISWAN has already appointed a new programme manager, Mr Tom Holmer, to lead the MPHRP in this new phase of its development. The programme in South Asia will continue while an immediate priority will be to secure funding to continue the programme in South East Asia and Eastern Europe.

Peter Hinchliffe, speaking on behalf of the MPHRP Board said "The MPHRP Board decided some time ago that the best way to provide the very best long term stability for the support of seafarers and their families caught up in the appalling acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean and in Somalia was to find a permanent home under the umbrella of an existing and highly respected seafarers' charity. Attacks on merchant ships and seafarers are still happening and we must ensure that the MPHRP is there to support seafarers if they are attacked and to prepare them for passages through high risk areas."

Jon Whitlow, Secretary of the Seafarers Section of the International Transport Workers Federation said "We are pleased that the programme can now continue as part of ISWAN. The ITF will play its role, with other industry partners, to ensure that piracy, with its devastating effect upon seafarers and their families, is not forgotten about."

Per Gullestrup, Chairman of ISWAN and former Managing Partner of Clipper whose ship CEC Future, and its crew, was hijacked off Somalia and held for 71 days said "I am delighted that the programme is coming into ISWAN. MPHRP has done outstanding work in the past and I believe ISWAN is the right organisation to take the programme forward. We look forward to working with current and new partners on developing MPHRP."

Other key industry partners involved in the MPHRP, such as the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Maritime Bureau, fully support the move of the programme into ISWAN.

The ITF Seafarers' Trust - which often pays for vehicles for seafarers' welfare bodies and missions - has announced it will be surveying their uses and effectiveness so as to use its grants as effectively as possible. The Trust will be partnering in the programme with the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) and the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA).

One of the Seafarers' Trust's main areas of funding is that of providing seafarers' centres/ships visitors with the means of transporting themselves and seafarers to and from ships by granting service providers funds to purchase appropriate vehicles. The Trust has provided over GPB 2.5 Million for this purpose over the last 34 years.

In order to make grant giving in this area more fair and equitable to the service providers, the Seafarers' Trust announces that it will partner with ICMA and NAMMA for a short program of data-gathering on current usage and needs of vehicles in ports around the world. ICMA and NAMMA are both international associations that represent the great majority of seafarers' centres around the world.

The data to be collected focuses on the number of seafarers served, the current state of vehicles being used for seafarer welfare purposes, the distance from ship to services, the mileage per year. Once the information is collected, the organisations that the Seafarers' Trust determines are likely to get a vehicle grant will be contacted and invited to apply for a vehicle grant.

Neither ICMA nor NAMMA will be involved in the granting decisions, only in gathering data and sharing information about the program.

Kimberly Karlshoej, the Head of the Seafarers' Trust, stated, "We continue to believe that providing seafarers with transport is a high priority for seafarers' welfare, and we want to be proactive in finding where our grants will have the greatest impact. ICMA and NAMMA are well placed to help gather data from all seafarer welfare providers, even those that are not members, we are delighted to partner with both organisations on this project.

The Rev. Richard Kilgour, General Secretary of ICMA, noted the same, "The long-standing and strong relationship between the ITF Seafarers' Trust and ICMA members is a great asset. ICMA supports the gathering information in this way for planning years ahead to target funds fairly and equitably to best effect for vital van replacement. That ICMA has been asked to help with data gathering is another example of how we are partners in this work."

Dr. Jason Zuidema, Executive Director of NAMMA, called attention to this project's importance: "Those seeking excellence in seafarers' welfare know that partnerships are important. Collaborating on this project is not just practical, but it again celebrates the beautiful connection that members in local ports have with the Seafarers' Trust."

Jul 16, 2015

The global shipping industry, represented by a wide cross section of international shipowners' associations and seafarers' unions, has collectively updated the industry's Guidelines on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea.

This is in response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, in which merchant ships and their civilian crews have so far assisted in the rescue of over 50,000 people. But the Guidelines are also applicable to other regions where ships may have to assist with rescue operations involving large numbers migrants or refugees, including South East Asia.

The new Guidelines update those originally produced by the International Chamber of Shipping at the end of 2014, but now take account of the considerable recent experience gained by shipping companies and their crews.

The Guidelines are now supported by a wide range of maritime industry organisations, including the European Community Shipowners' Associations, the Asian Shipowners' Forum, the International Transport Workers' Federation, the European Transport Workers' Federation, Intercargo, Intertanko, IPTA, and InterManager.

An important aspect of the revised Guidelines is the additional attention given to ensuring that rescued people are looked after safely once they have been embarked on board commercial ships, whilst also ensuring the safety, security and welfare of the seafarers undertaking such rescue operations, which often involve a significant degree of risk.

The guidance has also been expanded to include multi-lingual notices that might be utilised by ships when people from Africa and the Middle East are rescued.

The authors of the document are clear in emphasising that the guidance should not in any way be regarded as 'best management practices' (such as those which the industry has developed to address the threat of Somali piracy). Ship operators should be free to use them or not as is deemed appropriate in the context of their operations and existing company procedures.

The shipping organisations also make it clear that the revision of the Guidelines does not in any way suggest that shipping companies or their crews are reconciled to the continuing failure of governments to provide adequate state-backed rescue resources, as required by international law.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, commented: "The fact that these industry Guidelines, which are recognised by bodies such as IMO and UNHCR, are sadly necessary does not mean that the continuing reliance on merchant ships to perform a role which is the proper responsibility of governments is either acceptable or sustainable. The industry will continue to pressure governments to do more to meet their obligations during this crisis and will make no apology for doing so."

The Guidelines are being distributed to shipping companies free of charge and can be downloaded here.

Nobody can say with any certainty exactly how many seafarers have visited a port like Bremerhaven over the years. What is certain, however, is that seafarers have left a mark on the ports, the cities and the inhabitants. Bearing this in mind, it is all the more remarkable that a Day of the Seafarer was not inaugurated until just a few years ago.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) first announced a Day of the Seafarer in 2010. In that year it fell on June 25. The idea behind the initiative was to draw attention to the important role played by seafarers in mankind's co-existence worldwide. A further goal was to bring seafarers with their stories and experiences into closer contact with local people, something which is usually difficult to realise today due to the heavy workload on board and the extremely short turnaround times.

Against this background, it was decided to mark this special day in Bremerhaven with a celebration at the Seamen's Club, organised jointly by the German Seamen's Mission, the Bremerhaven Nautical Association, Eurogate, the port management authority bremenports, and the Bremen Senator for Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports. As well as a barbecue and sports events, it also provided an opportunity for seafarers and locals to rub shoulders with each other. In addition, a new service was introduced for crew members. Visitors at the Seamen's Club can now borrow bicycles free of charge for transport into town. This gives them more mobility during their short free time in port. The service was made possible only through donations, and first trial runs indicate that it will be a popular attraction in future.

The celebration itself was attended by about seventy seafarers from various vessels and just as many invited guests. At a rough estimate, these seamen represent a small cross-section of about 25 million seafarers who have called at Bremerhaven in the course of its relatively short history.* And so a celebration of the Day of the Seafarer in Bremerhaven was long overdue.

Everybody involved agreed that the party was a success, and it is highly likely that it will be repeated next year.

* The Draper was the first ship to call at the newly established port of Bremerhaven in 1830. The port is visited by an average of 18 vessels per day. Based on an average crew size of twenty, this equates roughly to a total of about 25 million seafarers.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Iven Krämer
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Werner Gerke
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A health survey of nearly 600 women seafarers conducted by IMHA, ISWAN, ITF & SHS* has highlighted a continued issue with access to sanitary bins on board. This was documented as a serious concern for women seafarers over ten years ago by the International Labour Organization (ILO,2003) and yet 40% of survey respondents this year still lack access to a sanitary bin on board. That figure is even higher for women working on tankers where only 27% of respondents have access, or for those working on cargo ships where only 38% do. Nearly 85% of survey participants working on cruise ships do have access to a sanitary bin which is still disappointing considering there are many more women working in this sector than any other, and because cruise lines are likely to have a solution in place for their female passengers.

A private and hygienic disposal method on board all vessels could greatly help to alleviate the unnecessary anxiety and humiliation felt by many women seafarers during menstruation. According to the latest ILO figures (2003), 1-2% of the seafaring population are women, and around 94% of them are working on passenger ships. The few who work on other vessels are likely to be the only female on board and often have to ask their male colleagues about how to dispose of sanitary items which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Here are some comments from survey participants which illustrate this:

These [sanitary bins] are rarely available and it's embarrassing to mention (Offshore)

Only [given] sanitary bag after request (Cruise ship)

Disposal is also a real issue - there is no advice or guidance at all on which segregated garbage bin to put them in. It's a taboo subject and yet every female animal in the world has periods (Tanker)

Biggest issue I have faced whilst working at sea. In no other job would a female employee be faced with such a ridiculous concern as to how to dispose of sanitary products. Passing said products to the almost undoubtedly male fourth engineer for disposal in the incinerator has been suggested by some Masters, other suggestions have been to just dispose of in plastic or paper waste bins. This is also a concern as on many occasions during lifting operations where garbage is being landed ashore the garbage has lost containment and spilled on to deck, should sanitary products be part of the garbage that was to be spilled, as the only female on board most ships I work on, it would no doubt be a humiliating experience. In this day and age this should no longer be an issue (Tanker)

I don't really know where I should throw away women stuff (Cargo)

Can't flush sanitary products and no bins specified. Highly recommend this change to accommodate women on onboard (Tanker)

Women who are not given instructions on where to dispose sanitary items risk further humiliation if they mistakenly put products down the toilet and cause a blockage which is then dealt with by a male colleague.

A number of survey respondents also commented on their limited access to sanitary products on board, pointing out that it can be difficult to carry a large enough supply for a long contract. However, this seems to be the only option for many who have no way of purchasing items in port because they can't leave the ship or because they're not available for purchase. This issue was also observed in the 2003 ILO study of women seafarers which noted how even cruise ship workers can find it difficult to get hold of supplies because of having to rely on shops in passenger areas which may not always be available during rest times.

The project group responsible for the survey plans to work collaboratively with welfare organisations, shipping companies, ports, unions and government agencies to make long term improvements in these areas. The full analysis report is due to be widely circulated within the next few weeks and it raises several other health issues faced by women seafarers.

To make sure you receive the report, you can sign up to ISWAN's mailing list here, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions about the research. Visit here for some background to the research.


*International Maritime Health Association; International Seafarers’ Welfare & Assistance Network; International Transport Workers’ Federation and the Seafarers Hospital Society

SeafarerHelp is the free 24 hour multi-lingual helpline for seafarers run by the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

It has been another another busy year for the helpline with a 53% increase in the number of calls to SeafarerHelp and a 19% increase in the number of seafarers assisted. In 2014 the SeafarerHelp team dealt with 1,920 new cases and helped over 7,710 seafarers. Since 2011 there has been a dramatic growth in the number of calls coming into SeafarerHelp and the number of seafarers assisted – there has been nearly a 270% increase in the number of calls and over a 250% increase in the number of seafarers helped.

The most common problems seafarers faced were upaid wages, problems with repatriation, contractual problems, sub-standard conditions on board and health issues. There were a lot calls requesting information and seeking employment.
Most of the contacts that SeafarerHelp receives are referred on to specialist organisations for direct assistance. These include the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and welfare organisations such as Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of The Sea, and the Sailors Society. Other agencies who assisted included national embassies, harbour authorities, and medical service providers.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN said "The SeafarerHelp team worked hard in 2014, working every hour of the day and night and every day of the year assisting seafarers. We wish to thank our funders and other supporters for enabling us to provide this vital lifeline for seafarers all over the world."

Seafarers greatly value the service. One said "...your service is excellent problem is solved". Another said "it was nice knowing that you were here for us when we needed help". In a follow up survey 83% of respondents felt that the SeafarerHelp service was either excellent or good and 89% said that they would recommend using it to other seafarers.

If you would like to support SeafarerHelp or need any further information then contact roger.harris[at] email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

The SeafarerHelp website is at

The Annual Review can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

Seafarers can contact SeafarerHelp 24 hours, 365 days per year, in the following ways:

Telephone: 00 800 20 7323 2737 (Toll free)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
SMS:+44 (0) 7624 818 405
Live chat:
Facebook :

Can you donate today to support SeafarerHelp? Thank you.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving



The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and Seafarers' Rights International (SRI) report progress being made on the urgent issue of the criminalisation of seafarers. This follows the positive reception from the IMO's (International Maritime Organization) Legal Committee to a paper co-sponsored by the ITF, the International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA), the Comité Maritime International (CMI) and InterManager.

The paper analysed replies by member states to a survey conducted by SRI on the implementation into their national laws of the IMO/ILO (International Labour Organization) Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident. This followed an SRI survey of 3,480 seafarers that suggested that the human and other legal rights of seafarers contained in the Guidelines are often subject to violation, causing widespread concern among seafarers.

The paper was supported by 31 member states, as well as by the International Chamber of Shipping, the Nautical Institute, the International Salvage Union, the Cruise Lines International Association and the International Christian Maritime Association.
In response, the Legal Committee concluded that technical support and assistance should be provided by the IMO's Technical Cooperation Committee in order to facilitate the wide implementation of the Guidelines on Fair Treatment to improve conditions for seafarers, taking into account human rights issues. The Committee commented on the ITF and SRI's 'excellent work' on fair treatment of seafarers, 'underscoring the importance of the subject and its relevance to the retention and recruitment of seafarers and the progressive development of the shipping industry'.

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, ITF commented: "We are very pleased with the explicit support and recognition we received from 31 states and the industry for our ongoing work on fair treatment of seafarers. It is crucial that we are able to use the Guidelines with a consistent approach so that we can call on them not just as guidelines but in a way that can ensure a systematic global rollout that means that all seafarers are treated fairly in whatever jurisdiction they might arrive in."

David Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers' Section, commented: "The Guidelines are based on human rights standards and they have real teeth. The industry as a whole has a big job, not only to educate seafarers, but to educate governments on applying the Guidelines so that seafarers have legal protections in the event they face an investigation and possible criminal charges following an incident in the course of their work. This is a priority for the ITF and our work on the subject will continue in association with our industry partners and SRI".

Jacqueline Smith, ITF Maritime Coordinator, added: "Seafarers need support. They can be criminalised in countries where they don't know the legal system, they don't know the culture, they don't speak the language, and they are guilty until proven innocent."

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI, concluded: "Our work on fair treatment is part of a major project that SRI has under way on the human rights of seafarers and fishers, a project involving judges, professors and law firms from all around the world. This work will lead to voluntary audits of interested parties and other guidance on potential breaches of human rights of all persons on board ships at sea. We are striving for a prosperous and efficient industry for employers and workers alike. This is underpinned by a solid understanding of rights and duties in the industry and we are committed to working to promote and advance all the rights of those working at sea."

To see the SRI Survey on Seafarers and the Criminal law visit here and to see relevant documents of the IMO Legal Committee on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the event of a maritime accident visit here.

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The new Study published on 10 June 2015 finds:

• Southeast Asian piracy is especially dangerous for seafarers based on the quantity of
attacks and 90% boarding success rate. Nearly 3,600 seafarers were on board
vessels boarded by pirates in SE Asia.
• Gulf of Guinea piracy continues at unacceptable levels. There have been no piracy
prosecutions and there is a lack of effective cooperation between regional
governments and industry. Total economic cost estimated at $983 million for 2014.
• Collective efforts to address Somali piracy continue to dwindle, while there are
indications that pirate activity and intent remain. Total economic cost for 2014
estimated at $2.3 Billion.
• At least 5,000 seafarers attacked in Southeast Asia, the Gulf of Guinea, and Western
Indian Ocean in 2014.

In its fifth State of Maritime Piracy Report, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) analyzes the impacts of this crime during 2014 in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea and, for the first time, in Southeast Asia.

OBP's analysis of pirate attacks in Southeast Asia documents a clear and reemerging threat
to seafarers. The study found that more than 90% of the reported attacks resulted in pirates
successfully boarding target vessels, and 800 seafarers were involved in incidents in South East
Asia where violence or the threat of violence was specifically documented.

In the Gulf of Guinea, the number of reported attacks remained within historic patterns.
However, the region faces a variety of challenges related to chronic under-reporting of incidents
and an absence of prosecutions. "We have observed that up to 70% of piracy-related incidents
in the Gulf of Guinea are never reported, so we currently lack a complete understanding of the
problem," says Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau. "This also
makes it difficult to assess the extent of the threats seafarers face in this region."

In the Western Indian Ocean, OBP found that while naval mandates, recommended industry
self-protection practices and the size of the High Risk Area remain unchanged, the observed
commitment of naval assets and use of vessel protection measures such as increased speed and
rerouting by merchant vessels continued to decrease, resulting in the total economic cost
dropping by 28% in 2014. Alarmingly, the perceived reduction in the piracy threat has also
resulted in more foreign fishing vessels returning to areas close to the coast of Somalia. Alan
Cole, Head of UNODC's Global Maritime Crime Programme notes, "These provocations are
similar to those that triggered piracy off the coast of Somalia in the first place. We are already
seeing an upturn in regional piracy incidents since the beginning of the year."

Finally, the report recognizes that seafarers across the globe are the primary victims of
piracy and armed robbery at sea. A chilling example of this are the twenty-six high-risk hostages
from the Naham 3 who remain in pirate captivity in Somalia today, more than three years after
the initial hijacking of their ship. According to Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, "The evidence
shows that piracy continues to be a world-wide threat to seafarers. There are specific contexts
that distinguish each region, but there is a common lesson in the need to address piracy through
cooperation, vigilance, and sustained effort by all actors across the maritime sector."

For further information and a copy of the report, please see here.

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.

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.

Welcoming participants at the award ceremony, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, said the awards "are an excellent initiative to recognize excellence in the provision of welfare facilities and services for seafarers all over the world. I hope these awards will raise the profile of seafarers' welfare and encourage others to examine and improve their performance".

Commenting on the evening Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, said: "The awards recognise excellent achievement and they inspire others to do more for the welfare of seafarers. We are particularly pleased that the awards are being held here at the IMO".

Photos of the awards will be uploaded to here.

This year's judges were Fr Bruno Ciceri, Chairman of the International Christian Maritime Association, Mr Steve Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, Ms Rose George author of the award winning 'Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Brings You 90% of Everything', and Mr Masamichi Morooka President of the International Chamber of Shipping.

The awards are generously funded by a grant from the ITF Seafarers' Trust. This year's sponsors are Inmarsat (headline), Garrets (Shipping Company of the Year), Wrist Ship Supply (Seafarer Centre of the Year) and ICS (Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year – organisation and individual). Crewtoo is the media sponsor of the awards. The awards are also supported and endorsed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA).