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The shortlist for the International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards has been announced. The Awards ceremony will take place on 24th June at The Manila Hotel in the Philippines. Generously funded by the ITF Seafarers Trust, and sponsored by Inmarsat and Crewtoo, the awards reward the companies and organisations that have offered seafarers the highest standard in services and facilities. With each candidate nominated by seafarers, the Awards are an opportunity for seafarers to say thank you to those who have made a difference to their lives, and to raise awareness of their needs.

The shortlisted candidates are as follows:

For Seafarers’ Centre of the Year (sponsored by Wrist Ship Supply): Stella Maris, Barcelona, Spain; MTS Busan, South Korea; Stella Maris, Mackay-Hay Point, Australia; Port Arthur International Seafarers Center, USA; MTS Townsville, Australia; MTS, Victoria- Australia

For Shipping Company of the Year (sponsored by Garrets):Anglo-Eastern Ship Management; Carnival Cruise Lines; MF Shipping; P&O Cruises; Seaspan Ship Management Ltd

For Port of the Year:Port of Bremerhaven, Germany; Brunsbuttel Ports GmbH, Germany; Port of Kandla, India; Copenhagen Malmo Port AB, Sweden/Denmark; The Port of Singapore

For The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year*; Organisation (sponsored by The International Chamber of Shipping):AMOSUP; Humans At Sea; Hunterlink

For The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year; Individual (sponsored by The International Chamber of Shipping):Pst Joseph Chacko (India); Howard Drysdale (UK); Rev Stephen Miller (East Asia); Maike Puchert (Germany); Fr Edward Pracz (Poland); Roger Stone (UK)

Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, said “We are delighted to be able to hold the 2016 awards’ ceremony in the Philippines, where a large number of the world’s seafarers are from. Congratulations to the shortlisted candidates who have all demonstrated their great commitment to improving the lives of seafarers. We look forward to announcing the winners during the lead up to our Day of the Seafarer Celebrations which will go ahead in Manila the following day”

The awards will be presented to winners by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim. Around 300 attendees including representatives from shipping companies, unions and welfare organisations are expected at the event. It is a night of celebration, as well as an opportunity to raise the profile of seafarers’ welfare.

The judging panels for each category can be viewed here.

*The award is named after Dr Dierk Lindemann who was instrumental in the adoption of the MLC in 2006 serving as Managing Director of the German Ship owners' Association and Ship owners' Group Spokesperson at the ILO.

Awards are funded by The ITF Seafarers Trust. They are also supported by the ILO, IMO, ICS, ICMA, Crewtoo, Inmarsat, Wrist Ship Supply and Garrets.

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


ISWAN were proud to host Chirag Bahri at a briefing on piracy on 7th April. Chirag Bahri has worked as the Regional Director for MPHRP's piracy response in South Asia for four years. MPHRP recently became part of ISWAN, and the ISWAN team also answered questions about ISWAN's work supporting seafarers and on the state of piracy today.

Piracy is a complex issue with a major impact on seafarers worldwide. In South Asia the MPHRP team have extra challenges. Although some ship owners and management are supportive, for other seafarers the work of Chirag's team is the only support they receive. Ships have been abandoned by owners when captured in Somalia, and there is not always useful support from the ship management during or after captivity. During a hostage situation, the piracy response team will get in touch with ship management and encourage them to stay in regular and frequent contact with families affected "day by day, minute by minute" says Chirag. "We'll help them sort out gas and electric bills and get access to accounts whilst the seafarer is held captive. We help them retain normal living conditions." When seafarers return from a hostage situation, or from any incident of piracy, counselling and ongoing support is provided. Their lives need "restructuring...they need support from families, friends, society, shipping companies. Sometimes their passports have been taken so we help them get new documents." Working closely with the Ministry of Shipping in India, Chirag works to get documents replaced in a relatively short time. He helps the seafarers move forwards, finding them jobs with shipping companies and getting them back to sea.

With seafarers from two fishing vessels still in captivity, the Siraj and Naham 3, and the cases of piracy involving hostage taking rising in West Africa and South East Asia, the impact of piracy on seafarers long-term and on those left behind is still severe. West African pirates can be especially violent. Working in closed waters and near anchorage or coastal areas, they have short timescales to board the targeted vessel and get the seafarers to comply. This can lead to seafarers being injured or killed. Preparation for possible pirate attacks is essential. "Preparing seafarers from grass roots is very important. We provide training modules on piracy awareness, covering how to prepare personally for attacks, and stressing the necessity of hardening your vessel, what to do in case you see a suspicious boat, and what to do if boarded, staying calm and not panicking. We teach them coping skills for during captivity." There are 120 piracy trainers in India who have been trained to pre-departure courses by MPHRP.

A lesser known issue with piracy is the aftermath for the ships during investigation. After attack, ships may be taken to the closest port and kept there while an investigation takes place. This can also be a difficult experience for the seafarers on board and for the shipping companies who are providing assistance to them. For those ships sailing through pirate waters, the act of doing so alone is enough to cause stress and anxiety.

Chirag is also working to broaden the response to crises beyond piracy, to help families in cases where seafarers are detained or go missing. As piracy changes, the field of piracy response is also evolving, and the support options for seafarers affected by any form of piracy are becoming more accessible and mainstream. The work of preparation is vital, and development of services which will benefit seafarers and their families an ongoing aim.

The special tripartite committee on the MLC met at the ILO in February to look at amendments to the MLC. The committee meets every 2 years to review the MLC. Amendments agreed at the meeting included an amendment highlighting the importance of health and safety onboard and proposing the inclusion of the new ITF/ICS guidelines on eliminating bullying and harassment at sea.

The meeting also agreed to establish a working group to draft proposals for a future amendment to the MLC to protect seafarers' wages if they are held captive as a result of piracy or armed robbery. The new amendments to the convention will go to the ILO International Labour Conference and are expected to enter into force in late 2018. The amendments adopted in 2014 on the financial security of crew claims and cases of abandonment are due to come into force in January 2017. The MLC has now been ratified by 70 countries that represent 80% of the world's shipping.

The meeting on the MLC was followed by a meeting on the Seafarers ID convention 185 that saw a resolution unanimously supported on the facilitation of access to shore leave and the transit of seafarers joining their ships.

Further information on the MLC meetings can be found at


17 March 2016

ISWAN welcomes the news of the jailing of Somali pirate kingpin Mohamed Abdi Hassan in Belgium for 20 years for the hijacking of the Pompei, a Belgian flagged ship captured by pirates in April 2009. Two other Somali pirates are in jail in connection with the abduction of same ship, sentenced to nine and ten years.

At the time of release of the Pompei,12 other ships were held hostage in Somalia, with about 200 seafarers on board. It marked a time of terrible suffering for a large number of seafarers and their families. While numbers of hijacked ships peaked in Somalia at 49 ships in 2010, involving the captivity of over 800 seafarers, they have now significantly reduced. However, there remain in Somalia 26 seafarers from the Naham 3 who, on the 26 March 2016, will have been held by pirates for four years. Three seafarers from the original crew of 29 have died in captivity. 17 Iranian seafarers held captive in Somalia will also reach their first anniversary on 25 March.

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) runs the humanitarian programme MPHRP which assists families of seafarers who are left without the presence of a son, husband or father, and as well without their wages. Funds donated for the support of the families by members of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia provides help for these families, as do other generous donors.

Tom Holmer, programme manager, said: "piracy has been a lucrative occupation for this man, but has spread misery, poverty and grief to seafarers and their families. Congratulations to the Belgian government for their work to obtain justice for the seafarers."

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) was established by the maritime community in 2011 to assist seafarers and their families with the humanitarian effects of a piracy attack. Since August 2015 it has been part of ISWAN, a UK registered charity which provides welfare services for seafarers and their families around the world.

Contact details for further information :
Tom Holmer, Programme Manager MPHRP, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch the new 'Lifeline' video from ISWAN. The video made by Maritime Films UK, showcases the varied work and projects of ISWAN. Short interviews are held with ISWAN staff as they explain the operation of SeafarerHelp, the 24 hour helpline, the work on supporting seafarers affected by piracy, and the projects dealing with the health and wellbeing of seafarers.

The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) is delighted to announce that it will be holding an event to celebrate the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Day of the Seafarer on 25th June 2016.

The celebrations – aimed at seafarers and their families - will be held in Manila, the Philippines, at the SMX Conference Centre. The event will be addressed by the IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim. It is supported by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), AMOSUP, the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC), Inmarsat, and Wrist Ship Supply.

The Day of the Seafarer was established by the IMO in 2010 with the objective of recognising the important role of seafarers. The annual event also raises awareness of life at sea, and engages support for seafarers' welfare. ISWAN marked the first ever Day of the Seafarer in 2010 by holding a similar successful event in Manila.

The event will follow the theme of 2016's Day of the Seafarer 'At Sea for All' and will include music and cultural acts as well as a health zone for seafarers and a children's activity area. Two thousand attendees, comprising of seafarers and their families, are expected to attend.

Mr Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said: "We are extremely pleased to put on this Day of the Seafarer event in the Philippines where so many of the world's seafarers come from. The event will highlight the key role that seafarers play in our everyday lives."

The Day of the Seafarer event will be preceded by the 2016 International Seafarers' Welfare Awards ceremony on the evening of 24th June that will be held at the Manila Hotel.

Sponsorship opportunities are available and can be viewed here.

For more information concerning the event, please contact Caitlin Vaughan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Roger Harris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network is delighted to announce the judging panels for The International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016. For the first time, there will be separate judging panels for each category.

The judges for each category are as follows:

Port of the Year- awarded to the port that has achieved the most in the provision of and access to high quality welfare services and facilities for seafarers.

Karin Orsel- CEO of MF Shipping, President of WISTA, Vice Chair of ICS - Kuba Szymanski- Secretary General of InterManager, and Andy Winbow- former Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Maritime Safety Division at the IMO.

Shipping Company of the Year- bestowed upon the shipping company or ship management company that has strived to provide the highest quality welfare services for seafarers.

Masamichi Morooka, Chairman of the ICS, Helen Sampson – Director of Seafarers' International Research Centre, and Jacqueline Smith, Maritime Co-ordinator at the ITF.

Seafarers' Centre of the Year- awarded to the seafarers' centre that has offered the highest quality welfare services for visiting seafarers. This award is sponsored by Wrist Ship Supply.

Father Bruno Ciceri, Chairman of ICMA, Kimberly Karlshoej- Head of the ITF Seafarers' Trust, and Robert Kledal, CEO of Wrist Ship Supply.

The Dr. Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year- awarded to the individual who has, in the opinion of the judges, made an outstanding contribution to seafarers' welfare. This award is sponsored by the International Chamber of Shipping.

Masamichi Morooka, Rose George- author of the award winning Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Brings You 90% of Everything, and Per Gullestrup, Chairman of ISWAN.

Executive Director of ISWAN, Roger Harris, said "We are honoured that eleven experts from the maritime industry could join our four panels this year. Each Judge contributes specialist knowledge to their panel, as well as a firm commitment to improving the welfare of seafarers."

The awards are an annual event organised by ISWAN and generously funded by the ITF Seafarers' Trust. The event raises the profile of seafarers' welfare internationally, and the awards aim to ensure that more companies and organisations engage in the process of improving seafarers' welfare.

The awards are also supported by the ILO, IMO, ICS, ICMA, Crewtoo and Wrist Ship Supply.

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.

The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) deals with a number of cases where seafarers find themselves in an emergency situation and in such circumstances the seafarer may be eligible for a grant from The Seafarers' Emergency Fund. The fund was set up by the TK Foundation and the ITF Seafarers' Trust, and its aim is "to provide immediate, essential aid to seafarers and families of seafarers, who are directly involved in sudden and unforeseen crises". Welfare organisations have to apply to the Seafarers Emergency Fund for the grant on behalf of the seafarer.

In 2015 there were nineteen applications to the Seafarers Emergency Fund of which fourteen were approved and administered by ISWAN. Here is one such case:

Jon* contacted SeafarerHelp, ISWAN's free Helpline, to seek advice about a compensation claim against his employer for medical expenses. He became ill, following an injury whilst working in a storm at sea, and was suffering from loss of memory and appetite. His temperature was dangerously high, consequently he was sent home. After consulting a doctor, it became clear that the seafarer's lungs had been affected and that he required an operation on one of his kidneys.

The SeafarerHelp officer in charge of the case spoke to Jon in his own language and gave him the details of his local Sailor's Society chaplain who would be able to visit him. He then contacted Jon's nearest ITF inspector with information about the case. The local chaplain maintained contact with the SeafarerHelp team throughout.

The seafarer later had an operation to remove his kidney, but could no longer work and therefore required financial assistance to cover his medical bills. After consulting with a lawyer, it was made clear that compensation was unlikely. The chaplain contacted SeafarerHelp to express his concerns for the seafarer and his situation and he was advised to apply for The Seafarers' Emergency Fund on Jon's behalf. The application was successful and the seafarer was granted USD 1150 to help pay for his treatment.

* Name anonymised

On 9th February 2016, nine seafarers being held in Nigeria were released.

The ship 'Melilli', also known as 'Asteris', was arrested in March 2015 in Nigeria on charges of illegal oil trading. Some of the seafarers were imprisoned, and others left on board the ship at anchorage under armed guard. The owner and agent were not in contact with the crew and did not provide supplies to the vessel.

The Seafarers' Emergency Fund, administered by ISWAN, provided funding for two separate deliveries of food and water to the crew left on board, in September and November 2015. In total, the Fund provided USD 7,500 for food, water and medical supplies.

Amos Kuje, Secretary of the NSWB, said: "We were grateful for the help of the Nigerian Navy, who worked with NIMASA and with members of the Bangladesh community in Lagos to assist the seafarers. They have also helped some of the seafarers from this ship who have remained in prison, and we want to thank all who have helped to achieve this outcome in the face of very difficult circumstances."

Various organisations came together to provide assistance, eventually leading to the seafarers' release. On 9th February came news of the release of nine of the seafarers from the ship (four from Ghana, four from Benin and one from Bangladesh). Three Philippino seafarers had already been repatriated the previous week. Below is a photo of the National Seafarers' Welfare Board of Nigeria (NSWB), members of ISWAN, assisting these seafarers with transport. The NSWB also runs a drop in centre in Apapa.

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Welfare boards, known locally as Port Welfare Committees (PWCs), help form maritime communities that coordinate, review and support improvements to the provision of shore based welfare facilities and services for seafarers.
An ISWAN pilot project funded by the ITF Seafarers' Trust, the International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP), aims to encourage and support the establishment of Welfare Boards worldwide. With seafarers' welfare and wellbeing assuming greater importance, Welfare Boards encourage the maritime community to work in partnership with one another to ensure that seafarers' welfare in ports is properly supported. The value of Welfare Boards as effective welfare forums has long been acknowledged by the international maritime community, including the International Labour Organisation. Access to shore-based welfare facilities is now recognised by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) as a key component in securing seafarers' rights and freedoms.

Administered by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) pilot project aims to establish welfare boards, in accordance with MLC, 2006, at national, regional and local port level.

Prior to the visit to West Africa the Partnership helped set up welfare boards in Australia (Gladstone & Brisbane), Antigua & Barbuda (St Johns), Republic of Korea (Busan), Canada (Ontario Region), Spain (Barcelona) and conducted a welfare review of seafarers' welfare in Mauritius (Port Louis). These PWCs now make a valuable contribution to seafarers' welfare from the Pacific to the Caribbean.

Following a trip to West Africa in January 2016, two new Port Welfare Committees were successfully established in Ghana and Benin. The establishment of the PWCs in Tema (Ghana) and Cotonou (Benin) marks a significant moment in the development of welfare facilities for seafarers operating out of the regions' expanding ports.

At the inaugural PWC meeting of the Tema PWC the Hon. Joyce Mogtari, Ghana Deputy Minister for Transport stated "The formation of this committee will enhance the provision of appropriate facilities and, of course, the services that are provided at ports and keep up with modern trends and best practices in seafarers' welfare."
Speaking at the re-opening ceremony of the Stella Maris Seafarers' Centre in Cotonou, General Manager of the Port of Cotonou, Naomi Azria congratulated the port community and Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) for forming the new PWC and improving seafarers' welfare. The centre has now been refurbished, following military occupation, with local funds by Stella Maris.

With new supply routes opened up, helping to connect landlocked countries in the region, major ports in the West Africa Sub Region are expected to experience a marked increase in port traffic in the years to come. In a region that experiences piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery the busy ports of Tema and Cotonou also offer safe anchorages that are used by thousands of ships in transit. The Partnerships success in the region not only demonstrates the significance local stakeholders place on PWCs, but also highlights the importance of the support and expertise that can be provided by outside organisations such as ISWAN, the Seafarers' Trust, and MNWB.

For more information on port welfare committees, including case studies of committees in Australia and Korea, please visit The International Port Welfare Partnership website.

If you are interested in joining the ISWAN IPWP project, should it expand into a major project in the future, then please contact here.