Three global shipping organisations have issued guidance to their members on the risks posed to ships' crews calling in countries affected by the Ebola virus.

The ICS (International Chamber of Shipping), IMEC (International Maritime Employers' Council), and the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) urgently advise that on all such vessels:

1. The Master should ensure that the crew are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk.

2. The ISPS requirements on ensuring that unauthorised personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.

3. The Master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave whilst in impacted ports.

4. The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of an affected country.

5. After departure the crew should be aware of the symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care.

The advice is supplemented with information from the World Health Organization on the virus (available here www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en)

A spokesperson for the three organisations commented: "Everyone is deeply concerned for those suffering from the Ebola epidemic and supportive of a coordinated world response to help them. We particularly applaud all those medical staff who are risking their lives to help. In the meantime we want to make sure that those in the world shipping industry play our part in ensuring the safety of crews visiting the affected countries, and minimising the risk of the virus spreading further."

Guidance Notes from the three organisations can be viewed here

Kenya is the latest country to have ratified the Maritime Labour Convention.

Over the past few months Ireland, Bangladesh, Argentina, Mauritius, Iran, and Belize have all ratified the convention. With Kenya's ratification this brings the total number of countries ratifying to 64.

Once a state ratifies it takes a year for the convention to come into force. The convention came into force just over a year ago for the first 30 countries that ratified.

Three major maritime countries – China, India, and the USA – have yet to ratify the convention. For the full list of countries that have ratified the MLC see here.

australian flag picturesThe newly formed Australian Welfare Seafarers Council, and member of ISWAN, has been holding a series of forums around the country.

Recently Western Australian seafarer welfare and industry forums were held with approximately 140 representatives from the shipping industry, unions, seafarer welfare providers and seafarers in Port Hedland (24 June 2014) and Fremantle (26-27 June 2014). The forums included discussion and updates on:

  • the Maritime Labour Convention one year on,
  • work of the Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council (ASWC),
  • STCW amendments and changes to Marine Order 3 / Marine Order 70 series, and
  • current ship inspection issues (MO34 – Solid Bulk Cargoes, MO32 – Cargo Handling Equipment, MO43 – Carriage of Livestockand MO41 - Carriage of dangerous goods).

AMSA has received excellent feedback on the forums to date, with responses identifying all topics presented of interest and considered valuable. Based on feedback forms received, the following were highlights for attendees:

  • Awareness of seafarer welfare issues;
  • Tremendous work of the seafarer welfare centres, with particular reference to the Port Hedland Seafarers Welfare Centre,
  • Discussions on mental health awareness and issues specific for the maritime industry
  • Fatigue analysis and management presentation,
  • Updates on cargoes issues and STCW Seafarer Certification were of particular interest and attendees found it invaluable to have AMSA on hand to answer any questions or queries specific to WA concerns.

Copies of the presentations from the forums can be found on the ASWC website here.

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The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) is seeking a new General Secreatry. ICMA are a member of ISWAN. The post is London based with significant domestic and international travel.

Are you passionate about the welfare of seafarers? Are you a dynamic leader seeking a mission? If so, the International Christian Maritime Association needs you! We seek someone, lay or ordained, to be the public face of the ICMA in the UK and worldwide, who is also capable of taking on the leadership and strategic management of the only international ecumenical group within maritime ministry.

Terms: Commensurate with the complexity and international dimensions of the role.

For an application pack for this role please contact ICMA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For general information please visit www.icma.as

Closing date for applications: 12 noon on Monday 11th August 2014

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ITF LogoFullThe International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Seafarers Trust, one of the main funders of seafarers' welfare around the world, has moved to an online application process for grants.

A spokesperson for the trust said "It took us quite some time to set up the form in order to make it as easy as possible for applicants, but without sacrificing our need for exhaustive information. With the new form we have tried to obtain more information on how applicants intend to spend the funds making sure that the intended project is sustainable."

The trust will no longer accept paper applications. To find out how to apply for a grant for seafarers welfare and the criteria and terms and condition go to http://www.itfglobal.org/seafarers-trust/index.cfm and then 'how to apply'. The site will take you through the process and the guidelines to follow.

Further information is available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The International Seafarers' Welfare & Assistance Network (ISWAN) will be producing the updated Seafarer Centre Directory online and in hardcopy in September. The current version has proved extremely popular with seafarers and it has been distributed widely around the world over the past two years.

This year we will print and distribute 50,000 hard copies of the updated directory direct to seafarers around the world. We are printing the directory in the UK, India, and the Philippines. Another 10,000 pdf's of the directory will be downloaded from our website. We estimate that each directory has a readership of 4 seafarers so the total reach of the directory is 240,000 seafarers. We are offering selected organisations and companies the opportunity to advertise in the directory for £1,000 per full page and £1,750 for a double page spread. Members of ISWAN receive a 20% discount.

To see the pdf of the current directory please see here.

If you would like to advertise, or if you need any further information, then please do contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

ISWAN have just produced the 2013 Annual Review for SeafarerHelp. During 2013 the SeafarerHelp team dealt with problems involving over 6,400 seafarers and their families. There was a 35% increase in the number of new cases handled by the SeafarerHelp team, and an increase of 47% in the number of seafarers assisted compared to the previous year. The most common problems seafarers faced were upaid wages, problems with repatriation, contractual problems, sub-standard conditions on board and health issues.

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 did a great job in 2013 working 24 hours everyday of the year assisting seafarers. We wish to thank our funders and other supporters for helping us provide this vital lifeline for seafarers all over the world."

One case where SeafarerHelp provided assistance was to the pregnant wife of a Ukrainian seafarer who contacted SeafarerHelp to complain that her husband had not been paid for over three months and that she badly needed the money to prepare for the impending birth of their child. We soon established that her husband and the rest of the crew had been abandoned in South Korea by the ship owner, and the caller's husband agreed for us to refer his case to the ITF. The local ITF inspector boarded the ship and arranged for it to be arrested by the local authorities. The ITF also arranged for the seafarers to be repatriated to their respective countries. However, the seafarers could not be paid their outstanding wages until the vessel was sold by auction. In the meantime, the seafarer was very happy to go home and saw the birth of his baby. A few months later he and all his colleagues finally received their outstanding salaries when the vessel was sold.

The SeafarerHelp service relies upon charitable funding for its continued existence. If you are able to financially support SeafarerHelp, then please contact Roger Harris at iswan[at]iswan.org.uk.

The Annual Review and the infographic can be downloaded from the bottom of the 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: www.seafarerhelp.org

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New facilities for cruise ships crew have opened in Helsinki, Kiel, and Liverpool. All have been opened by seafarer welfare organisations, working in co-operation with other partners.

In Helsinki the Finnish Seamen's Service and the Finnish Seamen's Mission have opened up a new drop-in centre for cruise ship crews funded by the ITF Seafarers Trust. The drop-in centre provides free internet service, phones, a shop, and transport. Refreshments are also being provided. The centre is open when there is cruise ship in the port. The centre is called 'the Cruise Crew Lounge Anchor'. The centre is based in a former souvenir shop in the port.

In Kiel, Germany, the German Seamans Mission has moved into the new seafarer lounge in the Ostseekai Cruise Terminal. The facility is for the use of ship crews and is designed to improve communication and offer advice to visiting seafarers. The idea of the Seafarers' Lounge, as with similar facilities in Hamburg and Venice, is to create a familiar environment and a place where seamen can meet in a personal and private atmosphere. The facility cost about 400,000 Euros and was made possible by support from the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the International Transport Federation (ITF) and the Port of Kiel. The lounge provides internet access, a small shop, an advice room, and a kitchen for seafarers.

In Liverpool the Cruise Terminal, in conjunction with Liverpool Seafarers Centre have opended up 'Crew Welcome Desk' located within the terminal. The 'Welcome Desk' will be manned by personnel from Liverpool Seafarers Centre who will be there to offer advice, support, information and directions to the Liverpool Seafarers Centre. Situated right in the heart of Liverpool Docklands, Liverpool Seafarers Centre extends the hand of friendship to thousands of seafarers every year. They are a charity operating a front line service to provide practical and emotional support for seafarers. In addition to a friendly face, crew newspapers, printed in a number of different languages will be provided by KVH Media Group, whose maritime group office is located in Liverpool. KVH Media Group is a leading provider of commercially licensed news, entertainment, and training content for the cruise line and merchant shipping industries, hotels, businesses and retail.

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MPHRP (The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme) has welcomed the release and safe return of the remaining crew from the MV Albedo.

The remaining crew of the MV Albedo were released in early June after over three and half years being held hostage by Somali pirates.  Commenting on their arrival into Kenya on 7 June 2014 MPHRP chair, Peter Swift, said, "After 1288 days in captivity we are delighted for them and their families after the terrible ordeal and hardship that they have suffered. At the same time our thoughts are also with the family of the Indian seafarer who died in captivity and the families of the four Sri Lankan seafarers who are reported as missing after the vessel sank in July 2013."

The MPHRP are supporting these seafarers and their families back home with counselling sessions and ongoing medical care and treatment.

Download the special edition of the MPHRP Newsletter on the release of the MV Albedo crew at the botom of this page.

Watch the video of their release.

 

 

Comprehensive survey of seafarers by Futurenautics Research in association with InterManager, ISWAN, PTC, BIMCO and CrewToo finds access is an improving picture, but reveals certain sectors offering far poorer crew communications provision than others, with up to 30% of crew in some without access to a telephone.

Data allows ship operators to understand and benchmark provision across sectors and age groups; offers insight for suppliers into the changing requirements, habits and spending power of seafarers, and gives seafarers themselves the opportunity to have their collective voices heard across the industry. The full report is available to download at the bottom of the page.

With almost 3,000 respondents from more than 30 countries the 2014 Crew Communications Survey is the most comprehensive dataset available by which to measure access, costs, usage and future requirements of crew communications. Overall, access to crew communications is an improving picture, but with the MLC2006 now ratified by 61 countries and stipulating 'reasonable' access to communications at 'reasonable' cost, only 56% of seafarers claim to have access to communications facilities either always, or most of the time.

Provision varies considerably by sector however, with Container, Bulk and General Cargo offering the poorest levels of provision, where a good deal of the 6% of crew who never have access to crew communications work.

Telephone is still the most common form of crew communications service provision with 76% of seafarers on average having access, however in some sectors like General Cargo over 30% of respondents still have no access to a telephone.

With 77% of crew citing Internet access as the one free service they would choose if given the chance, perhaps the most encouraging finding is that Internet access is now available on average to 36% of all crew. Passenger and Offshore sectors where high penetration levels of VSAT and Inmarsat FleetBroadband systems exist are reporting close to 70% provision, with Container, Bulk Carriers and General Cargo lagging behind the industry with around 20% provision.

Perhaps surprisingly, almost half of the 36% reporting internet access are being provided it free of charge by ship operators. While this is very positive, this free provision is likely stemming from the highly complex charging structures communications suppliers provide to ship operators, making it difficult for them to implement pay-as-you-go internet access for crew. The survey demonstrated the same confusion amongst crew as regards what the communications services they access actually cost them per unit and confirms that complexity of charging could be acting as a brake upon usage—something suppliers should take steps to address.

On average respondents spend $134.00/month on crew communications whilst at sea, and spend $139.00/month whilst ashore, making the combined shore-based and sea-based crew communications market worth in excess of $2.6bn per annum. Despite the measurable improvement in access to communications, crew were equally split when asked whether access had improved in the last 2 years, possibly indicating that the improvements in speed and networks ashore mean the gap at sea continues to widen.

Only 25% of respondents cited using crew welfare facilities regularly - most likely linked to their ability to go ashore during port calls. For those using welfare facilities, most were doing so to use communications access to stay in touch with families and friends. Facebook remains the most popular website overall, with CrewToo the most popular maritime website amongst seafarers.

Despite concerns about MLC2006 the results of the survey suggest that rather than focussing on the dangers of non-compliance, operators should focus on new opportunities for improved operations, efficiency and margin which better access to connectivity for crew can drive.

The survey shows that seafarers represent a highly IT-literate workforce, the majority of whom believe that access to broadband at sea has impacted positively on safety and efficiency. Coupled with the range of personal devices being brought onboard, these findings suggest there are significant opportunities for ship operators to utilise technology more, and in more innovative ways to drive efficiencies and safety of operations.

The results also reveal that the level of access to crew communications is a factor for crew when deciding which operators to work for. 69% of crew indicated that this was a factor in their decision, with this sentiment highest amongst highly IT-literate crew—precisely those which operators need to attract and retain.

Access to crew communications is an improving picture, but it isn't good enough, and perhaps the key message from the 2014 Crew Communications Survey, is that this doesn't just disadvantage crew.

"Operators are recognising the operational efficiencies improved connectivity for vessels can deliver. One hopes that this clear evidence from seafarers of the additional benefits delivered by improving crew communications—not just with family and friends, but with colleagues and company—will encourage more to see the potential," said Roger Adamson, CEO of Futurenautics Research.

"The overwhelming message from this survey is that crew want to speak to, or see their loved ones on video, regularly and affordably. Addressing that one wish would mean a massive positive change in the lives of seafarers. The industry has the technology to enable that, and increasingly not simply a moral and regulatory, but a commercial imperative to deliver it."

Roger Harris of ISWAN said "Communications are the number one welfare priority for seafarers. There is alot in this report for seafarer welfare organisations to consider. One key finding is that seafarers are still paying a too large a proportion of thier monthly wages on communications both at sea and ashore."

The full report can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.