7th February 2017

The ITF Seafarers’ Trust has released the main findings of its Port-Based Welfare Services Survey 2016, in which a total of 957 seafarers took part.

Access to shore-based welfare facilities is a key component under the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 (Regulation 4.4). The objectives of the survey included to document the frequency of service use by seafarers and measure trends between 1996, 2006 and 2016 results. The survey also aimed to understand the importance, priorities and concerns of seafarers as to the provision of port-based welfare services, as well as any associations between respondents’ age, rank and type of ship.

The Summary Report summarises the survey’s findings along with the key conclusions drawn on internet access, access to shore leave, welfare workers and Seamen’s Clubs.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said: “ISWAN welcomes this study which gives us valuable insight into the importance of port-based welfare services to seafarers. The results reaffirm the vital need for strong partnerships across the shipping industry to ensure the highest quality services for seafarers in port. This is a key aim of ISWAN’s International Port Welfare Partnership Programme (IPWP) which will be formally launched in September 2017.

This Survey from the Seafarers’ Trust and a recent study on Port Levies systems in North America by NAMMA help to show the areas which need most attention from projects such as the IPWP.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

We were delighted to welcome ShipMoney to our network of members at the end of 2016. Greg O’Connell, Business Development Manager, spoke to us about the company’s current focus of work and commitment to seafarers’ welfare.

For more information about becoming an ISWAN member, please contact us here.

Can you tell us about ShipMoney’s services and company values?

We are rather unconventional in our business approach. Our culture has been developed to lead with the ‘Why’ are we in business followed by the ‘How’ and ‘What’ rather than the conventional methodology i.e. What, How and Why. At our core is the ‘CAUSE’ challenging the conventional expensive methods of foreign exchange and cash management issues for the seafarer and ship owner providing alternatives delivering consistent time and cost savings and becoming a customer-champion-company.

Which areas of seafarers’ welfare and wellbeing do you think ShipMoney can make a positive impact on?

Seafarers’ welfare and wellbeing in my opinion can be rolled into one large dynamic
as they both impact the logical and emotional aspects for our crew. Our seafarers perform at a very high level and the common denominator is that they provide financially for their families whilst at sea. Their salaries either in full or part are made available to the family and it is our mission to ensure that the seafarer gets as much of their money as they possibly can by removing the large and expensive institutions that hitherto have penalized crew.

What prompted ShipMoney to join ISWAN? What do you hope to gain from ISWAN membership?

I have witnessed personally over the years the great work ISWAN performs for our industry. All too often, again in my opinion, we have the capacity to dilute, usually unintentionally, the effort the seafarers deliver in performing their duties and the emotional burden it takes to be away from their families and friends ashore. For these reasons, ShipMoney wants to be involved with ISWAN not only to continually promote ISWAN to our clients but to also be in the position to give something back, and we look forward to working towards this with ISWAN in the near future.

Are there any current initiatives or projects that are helping to improve the lives of seafarers that you’d like to talk about?

A number of crew mentioned to us that ‘it’s expensive being a seafarer’. They wanted the opportunity to transfer money home or shop online without leaving their vessel/port all within a competitively priced, intuitive and transparent platform. We listened to their requests, provided the right instruments and we are delighted to see thousands of crew monthly optimizing e-commerce sites, transferring money all from their vessel or alongside which ultimately continues to improve their work life balance.

30th January 2017

The North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) has published the results of its research into port levies and voluntary contributions for seafarers’ welfare in a report also providing best practice guidance.

The research, conducted by NAMMA’s Director of Programs, Michael Skaggs, emphasises the importance of active support from port authorities to ensure the future financial security of seafarers’ welfare providers, even though port authorities are neither the source nor object of funding. The survey found that the single greatest indicator of a seafarer centre’s financial success through port levies was a productive relationship with port authorities willing to help publicise the good work of the centres and relay to shipping the importance of the services provided by these centres.

The majority of seafarers’ centres with a port welfare voluntary contribution in place (only half of those contacted) were found to receive little assistance from port levies. The report recommends the encouragement of those in port authorities and shipping to get to know the seafarer centres that operate in their ports and terminals to build and strengthen relationships, and suggests that the collection and distribution of existing port levies are reviewed.

The full report can be downloaded here.

19th January 2017

The latest amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) require ship owners to have insurance to provide compensation to seafarers and their families in the case of abandonment, death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.

Under the new provisions, which came into force yesterday, ships whose flag states have ratified the MLC must carry mandatory certificates and other evidence on board to establish that a financial security system is in place.

Seafarers in danger of abandonment can contact the insurance company, which will cover up to four months’ outstanding wages and entitlements in line with the seafarer’s employment agreement, along with reasonable expenses such as repatriation, medical care, and food and drinking water (more information can be found here). The new requirement of the MLC is expected to prevent cases where seafarers remain stranded in port for long periods when ship owners abandon their crews without paying wages or repatriating them.

Payment of outstanding claims to seafarers or their families in cases of death or long-term disability resulting from their employment will also be expedited.

16th January 2017

An ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) inspector has issued a last ditch call to a ship owner and its flag state to act to stop the suffering of a 17-strong crew abandoned in Algeria.

ITF inspector Mohamed Arrachedi has raised the alarm over the case of the Panama-flagged, Turkish-owned Seahonest (IMO 9142100) whose crew has been stranded unpaid and unprovisioned in the Port of Algiers for seven months.

Mohamed Arrachedi explained the urgency of his appeal: “The crew are on the brink. I believe there’s a real risk of suicide – that’s how desperate they are. The company has washed its hands of them, yet continues to operate other vessels. It’s a human disgrace, I believe they are happy to see the men reach breaking point in the hope that they will leave without a cent of what they’re owed.

“Either the company or the flag state has to act. The only reason the crew hasn’t starved is because of the food and humanitarian assistance provided by the ITF, Algerian trade unions, the port authority of Algiers Port and the embassies of India and Turkey.”

In a letter to the Panama Maritime Authority and the ship’s owner, Seyfullah Dalgin of Vera Denizcilik Ithalat ve Ihracat Tic Ltd, Sti Ismail pasa sok No:77, 34718 Kosuyolu, Kadikoy - Istanbul (www.verashipping.com), Mr Arrachedi wrote:

It is with maximum concern and worry, that, once more, we are contacting you Mr Seyfullah, to ask you for a quick, complete plan to come to a solution to the situation of the seafarers on board of the Seahonest in the Port of Algiers.

Sincerely, under all scopes and perspectives, not only from a legal or regulatory status, and/or a human perspective, it is absolutely unacceptable and non-understandable, that until now, and after more than six months on board, there is absolutely no plan, no programme to find a solution to the situation of the 17 crew on board (2 Turkish and 15 Indian nationals).

The crew on board are suffering the very bad conditions on board, the cold and very heavy psychological conditions. The absence of a plan, and the absence of fulfillment of the promises from your side, makes the situation on board at the limit of what any human being can to support. We have asked the company to arrange repatriation. This has been promised many times.

What is the real intention of the company? What is the company waiting for to start acting? Is the company’s plan to wait till the crew get more desperate and then accede to repatriation?

The crew capacity to support more is at its limit. Please act and act quickly. The crew are looking forward to getting paid and repatriated. Your company can put other crew on board, and stop the suffering of those on board. It is your responsibility to do so.

On Saturday one of the crew members sent the following SMS to Mohamed Arrachedi: “Is there any news or updates for us? Everybody are very tense, mentally tired and desperate to go home and anxious to know when and how our problem will be solved"

London and Kuala Lumpur, 10 January 2017

More crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than in any of the previous 10 years, despite global piracy reaching its lowest levels since 1998, the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) annual piracy report revealed today.

In its 2016 report, IMB recorded 191 incidents of piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas.

“The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored world piracy since 1991.

“The kidnappings in the Sulu Seas between eastern Malaysia and the Philippines are a particular concern,” he added.

Worldwide in 2016, 150 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were fired upon, seven were hijacked, and 22 attacks were thwarted. The number of hostages fell to 151.

Maritime kidnappings, however, showed a threefold increase on 2015. Pirates kidnapped 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents in 2016. Just over half were captured off West Africa, while 28 were kidnapped from tugs, barges, fishing boats, and more recently merchant ships, around Malaysia and Indonesia.

IMB is urging governments to investigate and identify the kidnappers and punish them under law.

Mr Mukundan said ships should stay vigilant in high-risk areas. “Shipmasters should follow the latest best management practices and where possible take early action to avoid being boarded. They should inform the IMB PRC or regional counter piracy centres for help and advice,” he said.

Sulu Sea kidnappings

The kidnapping of crew from ocean going merchant vessels in the Sulu Sea and their transfer to the Southern Philippines represents a notable escalation in attacks. In the last quarter, 12 crew were kidnapped from two cargo vessels underway and an anchored fishing vessel, and in November a bulk carrier was fired upon but pirates were not able to board the vessel. Earlier in 2016, crewmembers were kidnapped in three attacks on vulnerable slow-moving tugs and barges.
IMB advises charterers and owners to consider avoiding the Sulu Sea by routing vessels West of Kalimantan.

Nigeria hotspot

The Gulf of Guinea remained a kidnap hotspot in 2016, with 34 crew taken in nine separate incidents. Three vessels were hijacked in the region. There was a noticeable increase in attacks reported off Nigeria: 36 incidents in 2016, up from 14 in 2015. These included nine of the 12 vessels fired upon worldwide in 2016. Some were almost 100 nautical miles from the coastline.

Meanwhile, Indonesian piracy incidents fell from 108 in 2015 to 49 in 2016. Although the overwhelming majority were low-level thefts, vessels were boarded in all but three of the incidents.

Somalia risk

IMB recorded two incidents off Somalia. Pirates attempted to attack a container vessel in the Gulf of Aden in May, and fired on a product tanker in the Somali basin some 300 nm from shore in October. For IMB, this latest incident demonstrates that the capacity and intent to attack merchant shipping still exists off Somalia.

Elsewhere…

Peru reported 11 incidents – 10 of them at the country’s main port of Callao – compared to zero in 2015. The number of incidents in Vung Tau, Vietnam dropped from 15 in 2015 to seven in 2016. Bangladesh also witnessed a welcome decrease, down from 11 in 2015 to three in 2016.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only independent 24-hour manned centre to receive reports of pirate attacks from around the world. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organisation can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

Follow the @IMB_Piracy via #IMBPiracy

IMB offers the latest piracy reports free of charge. To request a PDF version of the report by email, visit:

https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/request-piracy-report

For further information, please contact:
Pottengal MUKUNDAN
Director, IMB
Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ISWAN is excited to announce the launch of our 2017 Photo Competition for seafarers.

We are inviting all seafarers to submit photos of a typical day in seafaring life, including work, port and leisure time. Entrants do not have to be experienced photographers with expensive cameras – just a smartphone is fine, but photos must be high resolution and those featuring people are encouraged.

The winner will receive a new GoPro HERO5 Session. They will also feature in future ISWAN publications, and all shortlisted entries will be showcased on ISWAN’s social media pages.

The deadline for entries is Friday 10th February 2017. Our panel of judges will decide on the shortlist, winner and runners up, and these will be announced in late February. Our judges this year are:

Luca Tommasi, Project Manager, ITF Seafarers’ Trust
Sue Henney, Head of Marketing, KVH Media Group
Sampsa Sihvola, CEO, Finnish Seamen’s Service

Any seafarers wishing to enter may send up to five high resolution images to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., including their full name, address and phone number in order to be contacted if successful, along with the name of their ship and where the photo was taken.

Please visit the following page for the competition rules and further details: seafarerswelfare.org/what-we-do/projects/iswan-photo-competition-2017

Sri Lanka has about 70 seafarers who have been held hostage by Somali pirates since 2009, and some of these have been supported by Chirag Bahri. On his recent visit to Sri Lanka Chirag made contact with some of the seafarers. “Thankfully, the ones we have known over the years are no longer in need of our support. Several of them have gone back to sea, and others are getting on with their lives. We are still concerned about the families of seafarers who have not returned.” In a visit with the minister of shipping, this was discussed, and the need for death certificates to be issued for the four Sri Lankan seafarers from the Albedo to enable their families to be able to make firmer plans for the future, a process which can take many years in the case of seafarers who disappear or are lost at sea.

One of the families of the four missing seafarers from the Albedo has opened a bakery to provide for the family, and with a grant from the programme has bought equipment increase productivity.

Sri Lanka 2

The cake shop of the wife of the Chief Engineer of the Albedo

Part of the work of Chirag is to speak to cadets and seafarers about to go to sea about the issues of piracy, to increase resilience among seafarers against this threat. Chirag is qualified to teach the Wellness at Sea course of the Sailors Society, a four-day course including a piracy module, also covers other areas to provide holistic support for seafarers geared to their life at sea. Chirag took this course at the CINEC training school for 36 Sri Lankan officer cadets.

Sri Lanka 3

Cadets at CINEC Colombo doing an ice-breaker during the Wellness at Sea Course

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has welcomed the extension of EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta, following a decision by the EU Council, which will continue to see military forces deployed for counter piracy operations in the Western Indian Ocean until December 2018.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe said “The presence of military forces is an essential component of the package of government actions that has helped to suppress the activities of Somali pirates, in support of the protective measures that continue to be taken by the shipping industry. Ship operators and seafarers will be very pleased that EUNAVFOR has announced its ongoing commitment to these vital counter piracy activities.”

“While other security concerns now draw the attention of the international community, it is a fact that the threat which Somali piracy presents to international trade is still extremely high, as the Secretary-General of the IMO has recently observed. Alongside a strong military deterrent, it remains essential that ships maintain compliance with the industry’s Best Management Practices to prevent a resurgence of hijacks and kidnappings by these violent criminal gangs. The extension of the EUNAVFOR mandate will also play a critical role in achieving this.”

ICS and its member national shipowner associations look forward to continuing their close co-operation with EUNAVFOR to help maintain the security of shipping and the movement of world trade along these vital sea lanes.

The latest edition of the inter-industry Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy (BMP4) can be downloaded here.

ISWAN / MPHRP applauds Indian Government move to ensure that seafarers held in captivity of pirates continue to receive wages until they return home.

The Union Cabinet of the Government of India, led by Prime Minister Modi, has approved the introduction of the revamped Merchant Shipping Bill in Parliament. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1958 has been amended various times on previous occasions between 1966 and 2014. The provisions of the Act have been shortened and simplified in order to reduce regulation, increase transparency and promote effective delivery of services.

One of the significant reforms that will follow enactment of the Bill includes the introduction of welfare measures for seafarers. More than 400 Indian seafarers have been held hostage in Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea in the past, some of those held by Somali pirates for more than four years. Among these, a small minority of seafarers have not been paid their wages by their owners and manning agents. There has been a growing consensus among the shipping fraternity to ensure that seafarers receive their wages for the full time that they are held in captivity. The Government of India supports the introduction of the provision of wages from capture until release.

Chirag Bahri, ISWAN / MPHRP Regional Director for South Asia, welcomed the provisions of the revised Bill, thanked the Government and the Director General of Shipping, whose guidance and pro-active approach has greatly assisted seafarers. “As a former hostage, and having assisted many other hostages and families, I can say that the payment of wages and compensation have been the biggest concern for seafarers who are taken hostage. The poor state of the families when not paid by the owners has tremendously impacted on living conditions at home, with some of them even not able to send their children to school or even to pay their electricity bills. This distress adds greatly to their problems at a very difficult time, and delays the recovery of hostages who return to a family in desperate poverty.”

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said: “The unpaid seafarers, on return home from captivity, instead of relaxing and taking time to readjust to home life, have to spend their time making emotional appeals for help and running from pillar to post to secure their wages. Unfortunately, this is the case in some of the countries where we have assisted hostages and their families.”

The revamped Bill also strengthens regulation on Recruitment and Placement Services, or manning agents. Agencies recruiting seafarers will have to deposit a bank guarantee of up to four months salary with the Director General of Shipping to cover every seafarer they hire. The authority makes use of these funds in case of non-payment by the agency.