ISWAN held a successful event on Saturday 25 June at the SMX Convention Center in Manila to mark the IMO Day of the Seafarer. The event was attended by over 2,500 seafarers, maritime cadets, and their families. The IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim, attended and spoke the event.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said "It was an amazing day. The event surpassed all our expectations. We were grateful for the presence of the Secretary-General and for the support of the sponsors. We were particularly appreciative of the participation of the all seafarers and their families who attended."

Robert Kledal, Chief Executive Officer of Wrist Ship Supply, said "Wrist Ship Supply are proud of being associated with the ISWAN Day of the Seafarer event held in Manila last Saturday (25 June). As a main sponsor, we were pleased to see over 2,500 seafarers and families enjoying the day at the SMX Convention Center. It was important that we celebrated the Day of the Seafarer in the Philippines where a large proportion of the world's seafarers come from."

The day consisted of a series of a wide range activities including on stage entertainment throughout the day, and a talent show by cadets from maritime schools. Seafarers and their families were able to take part in family activities in the Children's Zone, sponsored by GASFI, and visit a range of company stands in the exhibition area with free giveaways. The event also included a Health and Well-being zone, sponsored by UK PandI Club, which 1500 seafarers passed through to take basic medical tests, and receive health literature and medical advice from volunteer doctors and nurses.

The winner of the talent show was NTMA Creative Waves with 14 cadets from NYK-TDG Maritime Academy.

The day was hosted by Filipino celebrity Ms Issa Litton.

The event was sponsored by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Wrist Ship Supply, The UK PandI Club, AMOSUP, Inmarsat, IMEC, The International Chamber of Shipping, Seafarer Asia Magazine, PSU, Phil Health, and iVitta/Hya and was supported by the IMO.

The ISWAN Day of the Seafarer event provided an opportunity to celebrate the vital contribution of seafarers to our everyday lives as they are at sea for all of us. With one third of all seafarers coming from the Philippines, Manila was the perfect place to celebrate and show our appreciation for everything all seafarers, all over the world, do for us.

A short video of the event will be available shortly.

Photos from the day can be found here.

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ISWAN has entered into partnership with their newest member - The Shipowners' Club - the leading mutual P&I insurer in the smaller and specialist vessel sector. As a partner, the Club will contribute towards ISWAN's Seafarers Health Information Project (SHIP), an initiative that promotes and distributes health information materials to shipping companies, seafarers' centres, and direct to seafarers. The project consists of 10 core health considerations: food safety, on-board fitness, safe travel, healthy food, malaria, weight control, STI – HIV & Aids, mental care, dental care and skin care.

The Club's loss prevention specialists, as part of a communications campaign to reduce crew-illness related claims, will include each of the SHIP's core health considerations within guidance that will be distributed to Club Members.

Louise Hall, Head of Loss Prevention at the Shipowners' Club comments: "We are excited to be partnering with ISWAN, whose ethos sits naturally alongside the Club in aiming to assist Members with all aspects of risk mitigation. As a Club, we see many crew related illnesses especially concerning heart problems, stomach issues and illnesses related to blood pressure. ISWAN, through their own research, have produced excellent materials that address the areas of concerns we see from incident notifications, but also those reported by the industry as a whole."

Roger Harris, Executive Director at ISWAN comments: "We look forward to partnering with the Shipowners' Club on our Seafarers Health Information Project to raise awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing to seafarers around the world. With the Club's insights on illnesses experienced by Members and their employed crews, we will continue to educate and safeguard the health of seafarers, who remain among the most isolated working groups in relation to access to medical care, both in emergency situations and for primary health care."

The partnership means a greater number of seafarers will be able to benefit from important information about protecting their health on board. For more information about SHIP, visit, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Should you wish to receive the Shipowners Club's communications, please opt-in using this unique link: Opt-in to receive this information

The winners of ISWAN's International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The ceremony forms part of ISWAN's celebrations in the Philippines for the IMO Day of the Seafarer. The awards were presented by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim to seven recipients who have provided exceptional services for the welfare and wellbeing of seafarers.

The winners are:
• Judges' Special Award: Duckdalben International Seamen's Club
• Shipping Company of the Year: Anglo-Eastern Ship Management and MF Shipping Group
• Port of the Year: Bremerhaven
• Seafarers' Centre of the Year: Stella Maris, Barcelona
• Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award (organisation): Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP)
• Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award (individual): Reverend Stephen Miller
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 the adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention.

This year's judges were:
Shipping Company of the Year: Masamichi Morooka - Chairman of ICS. Helen Sampson - Director of Seafarers' International Research Centre, Cardiff University. Jacqueline Smith - Maritime Co-ordinator, ITF.
Port of the Year: Karin Orsel - CEO of MF Shipping, President of WISTA, Vice-Chair of ICS. Kuba Szymanski - Secretary General of InterManager. Andy Winbow - former Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Maritime Safety Division at the IMO.

Seafarers' Centre of the Year: Bruno Ciceri - Chairman of ICMA. Kimberly Karlshoej - Head of the ITF Seafarers' Trust. Robert Kledal – CEO, Wrist Ship Supply.
Dr. Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year: Masamichi Morooka - Chairman of ICS. Rose George – award-winning maritime author. Per Gullestrup - Chairman of ISWAN.

Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, said of the evening:
"It has been an honour to hold the awards here in the Philippines, home to a large number of the world's seafarers. All of tonight's award winners and shortlisted candidates have made a great contribution to improving the lives of seafarers, and we are delighted to be able to celebrate with them."

The awards are generously funded by the ITF Seafarers' Trust. This year's sponsors also include Inmarsat, Wrist Ship Supply (Seafarers' Centre of the Year), Crewtoo (media sponsor), Garrets (Shipping Company of the Year), and the International Chamber of Shipping (Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award- Individuals and Organisations). The event is also supported by ILO, IMO and ICMA.

Pictures of the evening are available here.

For further information about the awards, please visit or contact Caitlin Vaughan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

+44(0) 20 8253 0163, + 44 (0) 7702 473112

Marking IMO's Day of the Seafarer, Marlins, part of V.Group and the charity, International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) have created a new elearning course to help seafarers prevent and prepare for piracy attacks.

Although there have been no successful attacks off Somalia for some time, piracy, armed robbery and kidnapping of seafarers in West Africa and Asia are a current concern. Indonesia recently released advice to vessels in the area to avoid certain danger areas, such as the South Philippine waters of the Sulu Sea, fearing piracy could rise to Somali levels. In some countries, training on piracy has become compulsory for seafarers prior to departure.
Over the past four years, ISWAN's Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) has become a leading provider of piracy awareness training for seafarers. Based on industry best practice guides, ISWAN's training courses give companies and manning agents a template for helping seafarers and their families deal with cases of armed robbery and piracy attack.

This interactive new elearning course on piracy, which draws on ISWAN's expertise, provides seafarers with an understanding of anti-piracy measures and promotes strategies for dealing with an attack. The course focuses on ensuring seafarers have the mental resilience to remain strong during their ordeal. It also addresses the issue of post-traumatic stress, explaining what it is, how seafarers and their families can cope with the condition and where they can get help.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said: "The experience of seafarers who have been attacked shows the benefit of preparation, training and drills. This new e-learning course will be a valuable addition for seafarers to learn about the issues of attack and capture without having to be in a classroom setting."

Catherine Logie, manager of Marlins said: "With insight into how devastating a pirate attack can be for seafarers and their families, ISWAN and Marlins have combined their knowledge to provide practical guidance to all seafarers who may be at risk of piracy. This new elearning course brings piracy issues right up-to-date and makes industry best practice available to seafarers in any location."
The new course will be available later next month (July) via the Marlins online shop and will be included in the next update for all subscribers to Marlins eLearning Suite for Seafarers.

V.Group is the leading global marine and offshore vessel management and support services provider, with over 2,500 personnel based across more than 70 offices globally, supporting over 40,000 personnel in marine and offshore roles.

Marlins, a V.Group business, is the leading brand in training solutions for the shipping industry. Working closely with industry partners, Marlins provides high quality, cost-effective training courses and assessment products, which comply with the rigorous standards required by the shipping and offshore industries.
ISWAN is an international charity dedicated to the relief of need, hardship or distress among seafarers of all nationalities, races, colour and creeds and irrespective of gender.

On a hot, grey muggy day, three members of ISWAN were on our way to visit Port of Tilbury, London's main port. The aim of the visit was to meet the port staff and to understand their role as well as to speak to seafarers about their working conditions and their experiences. This port visit was one of a programme of such visits undertaken by the ISWAN team as part of their comprehensive training programme.
We were picked up from Tilbury station by Tim, Deputy Harbour master. Although close to the station the Port is not easily accessible by foot. It also made getting through security easier because we had a member of port staff with us.
After going through the security procedure, we were dropped off at Harbour Master Geoff's office, ready for our day.

Geoff is a former seafarer, who shows a clear love of his port and the people in it, whether permanent workers or transient arrivals from the sea. He talks with great enthusiasm about ensuring seafarers who enter his port are well treated, and is justifiably proud of Tilbury, both in terms of its economics and its organisation. He drove us on tour, pointing out sites such as the garden outside the office which is maintained by former seafarers for others to use, the wind turbines that provide 50% of the electricity that Tilbury needs and all the berths around the port.
The port itself is enormous, like a great sprawling beast, with giant warehouses, cranes, and many berths for ships loading or unloading a huge variety of cargo including cars, fuel, food, recycling, plants and animals. Plus there is the Cruise Ship Terminal, with its ornate cupola, and with its beautiful listed wooden buildings, painted pastel blue like a post card beach hut but much, much, bigger! It provides a contrast between the commercial and industrial side of the port with this softer old building.

 welcomeOn our journey around, we stopphatsed in at the Tilbury Seafarers' Centre. The inside has recently been refurbished, and is bright and welcoming, with a small shop, bar, sofas and pool tables, karaoke, and a selection of free knitted hats to take away. There were computers and telephones available for seafarers to contact home, and one of the four chaplains is always in residence to offer support, along with other volunteers. The centre can now be used by seafarers 24 hours a day.

Then we were on to the most eagerly anticipated part of the day which was getting on to a ship and talking to the crew. This hadn't been guaranteed as ships come and go but we were lucky, as we were able to board two very different ships, RMS St Helena, and a container ship.

helenaThe RMS St Helena is one of only 3 ships left to carry the title RMS, and she was on her final visit to Britain before being decommissioned. A mixture of cargo and passenger ship she once provided the only outside contact and services to the island of St Helena. A new airport is opening and the future of the RMS St Helena is uncertain. The Captain, Andrew Greentree, had been on her over half his life and although the ship was preparing to depart in a few hours the Captain took time to show us round his pride and joy.
RMS St Helena was a glorious warren, combining passenger cabins, crew quarters, mess rooms, galley, storage facilities, container transport, a gym, a swimming pool and engine room in one great floating adventure. We were particularly taken with the fact that as part of their transported goods there is an ice cream room, a beer room, and a chocolate cupboard! The crew were all in smart uniform, white and navy, and everyone had a smile despite being busy preparing to sail.
There was something a little sad about knowing this was St Helena's last UK visit; that a chapter was going to close on an important piece of seafaring history.

Our second ship visit was to a container ship, this was a very different experience. The crew were Filipino, Ukrainian and Belarusian, and looked concerned as we boarded, presumably thinking we were official bodies come to inspect or criticize. Once we'd explained were we were from and our aims, they visibly relaxed, and we got a tour of the ship, although the Mate insisted on very thoroughly showing us the safety equipment, just in case!
The two seafarers on deck we spoke with both told us of long contracts, 9 months away from home, and short time in Ports- maybe 3 hours; of which most was unloading. They spoke of the fatigue caused by the 6 on 6 off shift pattern, and the lack of shore leave available. One said 'that even if we could go on shore, when the ship's unloaded we'd rather rest'. The other confirmed 'On container ships, we don't care about drink, we don't care about food, we only care about sleep'

The container ship felt very different from the Helena. It felt like another world, one where when we stood on the bridge, containers were flying past mere inches from the window on cranes, where everything from fruit to lorries was being transported. One of boiler suits and grease. No fusion of luxury here, just work, the smell of oil sweat and the metal walls of shipping containers on all sides.
containerviewFrom the bridge, the view across the port was incredible. The life and movement below was something to behold as ships sailed in and out, cranes swung containers around, the wind turbines turned and lorries and Straddle cranes danced an intricate dance on the dock side.

The Captain came to join us on the bridge. His story was familiar- once seafaring life was the best of lives, you saw new places, had several days in port, life had been more leisurely and he had loved Rio, New Zealand and the warmth of the Caribbean. Now it was different, in the brief time in port,mountains of paperwork claimed his time, his crew were always busy and had little time to rest. You were in port for only a short time and there was no time to go ashore to visit the cities or see the sights. 'Sailing in the 80's and 90's was a wonderful life, now it is much harder and is a less attractive career'. His eyes lit up again when we asked about life before, and he told us of his former adventures.
We headed back to shore, down the many, many flights of steps that had taken us to the bridge ('The worst thing' the Mate said 'Is being on watch and realising you've left something downstairs').

The crew we met had all said this was a good ship; some were on their second or third posting because its standards were high. It makes you realise, this is a container ship with good standards, and an understanding captain but the crew are still tired and some are homesick. What must life be like on a ship with poor standards, or a harsh Captain?

After a rest for lunch, our minds full of the sights we'd seen and the conversations we'd had, we were driven back to the station. Halfway out of the port, we stopped to watch the St Helena depart on her last voyage up the Thames to moor next to HMS Belfast. Snub nosed tugs, small but powerful, gently pulled her free of the dock. She swept majestically past on her way to a few days of celebrations and celebrities in London before returning to South Africa for her final few months' work in the South Atlantic. We wished her and all those on board a safe journey.

We'd like to thank everyone for a really great day especially those who welcomed us on board and particularly Geoff and Tim for the time and effort they put into making this port visit such a success.

On 9 June, 2016 The Belfast Harbour Office hosted a Business Breakfast event to recognise the work of the Northern Ireland Port Welfare Committee (PWC) and bring together representatives of the maritime industries from across the Province.
The Northern Ireland PWC is one of 15 such committees operating around the coastline of the UK with a further PWC based in the Port of Gibraltar. Each committee comprises of representatives from organisations concerned with the welfare of seafarer's visiting the ports and the local seafaring community.
These Port Welfare Committees operate under the auspices of Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and are an essential and integral part of the work of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, an umbrella charity for the maritime charity sector, promoting co-operation between organisations that provide welfare services to merchant seafarers and their dependants within the UK.
The Northern Ireland PWC currently has 18 members who represent a wide range of maritime agencies and organisations all with an interest in seafarers and their welfare and is chaired by Mr Paul Hayes, Deputy Harbour Master at Belfast Harbour.
Mr Hayes commented "The NI PWC is a great forum whereby members can meet regularly to share information and best practice. The Business Breakfast event, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, created an opportunity to promote the work of the NI PWC and allowed networking between colleagues from across the maritime sectors in Northern Ireland. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced by those who go to sea in the run up to Seafarers Week 2016.
Mr Hayes went on to say "We would like to thank the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and Belfast Harbour Commissioners for supporting this important event. These are exciting times as the NI PWC will be one of the first to participate in a global network as part of the International Port Welfare Partnership Programme due to be launch in the new year".
Michael Whelan, ITF Inspector Ireland stated "I would like to thank and acknowledge the organisers of both the Business Breakfast and the Port Welfare Committee meeting. As the ITF Inspector these meetings are very important for me to build on, and expand on, existing relations with other organisations that have seafarers' best interest at heart."

ISWAN is proud to be part of the Port Welfare Partnership programn- information can be found here

For further information on the NI PWC please contact the Port Welfare Committee Manager, Sharon Coveney by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or check out the Merchant Navy Welfare Board website
A 30 sec video of the event is HERE

We are delighted to be able to provide the Story of Aman. Entitled "A Man Who Never Gives Up – Journey Of A Lifetime" this account of being a captive of pirates in Somalia is written in his own words and provides a unique story of the time he spent as a hostage.

MV Albedo, a Malaysian flag vessel with crew from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Iran was hijacked by Somali pirates on 26 November 2010 in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demanded ransom from the Iranian owner but the negotiations failed and the crew had to undergo a horrendous ordeal, staying in captivity for a long time. The seven Pakistani crew (including the captain) were released after a deal struck between a Pakistani NGO and the pirates, and the remaining the crew were left. The pirates shot one of the Indian seafarers due to a heated argument with the owner over failed negotiations.

The remaining crew were taken ashore from time to time in turn and made to live in the harshest of conditions, with poor quality food and rations. In the month of July 2013, the ship sank and four Sri Lankan seafarers were lost. The remaining seafarers - seven Bangladeshi, one Indian (Aman Kumar) and one Iranian - were taken onto land until their release from captivity on 6 June 2014.
Mr Aman Kumar joined this – his first - ship after paying some money to a local agent in order to get work at sea. He had completed his pre-sea course and was 19 years old at the time the ship was hijacked, so one of the youngest seaman onboard, but he displayed a lot of maturity, courage and strength during his captivity. Chirag Bahri, of ISWAN / MPHRP South Asia, said of Aman: "He led from the front when left in the hands of merciless pirates who would beat them brutally and who did not give them proper food. The crew's morale was lifted up due to Mr Kumar's good behaviour with his fellow crew and he created an atmosphere of trust and good relations. He interacted with the Somali pirates and learnt fluent Somali so as to communicate with them on the needs of the other crew members. This made life easier during captivity for all of them. During their escape, he showed a great sense of reliability and helped other crew who were in poor health to come along."
MPHRP South Asia was in regular contact with his family during the period of captivity and also assisted the family with financial support so his brother could get an education at college. The parents were invited to Mumbai and were provided with counselling from Dr Harish Shetty. The programme gave them moral and humanitarian support and kept them updated on news about their captured relative.

On release, the parents were invited to Mumbai again and they met with their son after four years of captivity. Mr Kumar was assisted with psychological support and with good financial support from industry and unions. The first thing Aman mentioned to Chirag Bahri on release was: "I will join shipping again after staying at home for a few months." When he declared his intention to go back to sea again, there was resistance by his family members, which is understandable, but Mr Kumar was confident that if he joined a good shipping company, such problems will not arise in future. He has done so and is now back at sea again.
His story can be downloaded below.

Seafarers continue to be the targets of pirates and armed robbers, with around 100 held captive ashore by various groups in different parts of the world at the moment. The training of seafarers, best management practice and hardening of ships has formed part of the response, but companies still need to be well prepared for seafarers being attacked or taken captive.

The ISWAN Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme has issued an updated "Good Practice Guide for Shipping Companies and Manning Agents – humanitarian support of seafarers and their families in cases of armed robbery and piracy attack." The guide has been updated with the help of the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Maritime Bureau, the International Maritime Employers' Council and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum.

The guide covers good practice in the support of seafarers and their families before, during and after an incident. It includes recommendations on planning, and also contains templates of leaflets, nominee forms and sample communications with families, as well as other information of more general use. It is designed to supplement the existing processes of companies, and comes with the benefit of the experience of dealing with over 200 seafarers and their families who have been held captive by pirates. It is available free to download and reproduce.

Andy Winbow, Chair of the MPHRP Committee of ISWAN, commended the guide to companies. "Piracy and armed robbery remains a real concern for seafarers and their families and the ISWAN Good practice guide fulfils a very real need. All the industry partners and related organizations that have contributed to the guide have the best interests of seafarers at heart and ISWAN looks forward to working with them to assist seafarers and their families affected by incidents of piracy and armed robbery when they occur."

Cyrus Mody of the IMB, who helped with the revision of the guide, said: "within the shipping industry many companies have well prepared and well-rehearsed SOPs to deal with all types of maritime crisis. This guide can positively supplement elements of these SOPs so that they comprehensively address the needs of seafarers."

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, concluded: "the guide provides a welcome addition to the services ISWAN can offer to seafarers and their families. Access to our 24 hour helpline gives seafarers and companies easy referral to agencies on the ground who can help individual seafarers and their families affected by piracy and armed robbery. We will continue with appropriate training and tools to increase the resilience of seafarers and support affected families."

A copy of the report can be downloaded below.

A new welfare facility for seafarers calling into Calais is now up and running!

The previous seafarer centre, Calais Seamen's' Club, was forced to close after its sponsor suffered financial difficulties. The reduction in merchant shipping through the port of Calais meant that a full time, permanent club house was no longer viable. This meant seafarers calling in Calais were without access to some of the facilities and services that are so beneficial when calling into port, as well as being deprived of human contact from the shore.

A small team of dedicated volunteers wanted to ensure that there were still facilities available to the seafarers, and formed The New Association Calaisienne des Amis des Marins (ACAM). Together they came up with an innovative solution to the problem. A "mobile club"! Using a minibus to visit those ships that arrive in port, this removes overheads such as rent whilst still providing a lot of the welfare services that make life more comfortable for the seafarers they serve. Offering toiletries, confectionary, books, phone & sim cards, currency exchange and transportation into town for the seafarers, the volunteers are also currently looking at ways to provide mobile Wi-Fi.

The mobile club is a vital point of contact for seafarers. It also allows a chance for seafarers to talk to a person on land about any difficulties they may be experiencing at sea, and get help and support where needed.

Seafarers can contact the club through the president, Anne Fetel at 0033321363477 or 0033672771813 or through Jill Simpson at 0033321357749


Registration for The IMO Day of the Seafarer Event organised by the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) is now open. This is a free event aimed at seafarers and their families and will be held in Manila, the Philippines, at the SMX Convention Centre. All seafarers and their families in Manila are invited to attend, but registration HERE is essential because places are restricted. With 2000 attendees expected, this will be a truly memorable day for those involved.

In line with the IMO's theme for Day of the Seafarer 2016 'At Sea For All', the ISWAN celebratory event will include a fantastic line up of activities including a family area with face painting, bouncing castle and story-telling; performances and stage shows; Zumba fitness and films; lunch for all attendees; exhibition stands from maritime organisations; prizes, giveaways and more. There will also be a Health and Wellbeing Zone, with medical professionals providing advice, free health checks, and health information. The event's Guest of Honour is IMO Secretary-General Mr Kitack Lim who will address the attendees.

There is a promotional leaflet for anyone who can help advertise the event to seafarers in Manila.

Seafarers can register for free at Places are expected to fill up fast so registrations should be made soon to avoid disappointment.

The event sponsors are the ITF, Wrist Ship Supply, AMOSUP, UK P&I, Inmarsat, ICS, IMEC, PSU, GASFI and Seafarer Asia.

For further information please contact ISWAN Executive Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Project Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.