Upcoming seminar on seafarers’ welfare!
"Working in partnership, seeking practical solutions"

Helsinki, Friday 23 Nov 2018

Click here to register


SeafarerhelpWorldwide support from SeafarerHelp - 24/7 Assistance, 365 days per year.



Treadmill B thumbISWAN help develop and implement projects to support Seafarers welfare.  more

Seafarers' Centre Directory

directory-thumbThe ISWAN Seafarers' Centre Directory provides a contact list of Seafarer centres.

Seafarers' Centre Directory


donate-button-blue Donate to ISWAN to keep our vital services and projects running

 Donate now

It was a full house at the first ‘Maritime Silk Road Ports & Seafarers Seminar’ held in Shanghai on 7th July. Organised by the ISWAN International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) programme, the event was attended by over 100 representatives from the Shanghai regional maritime sector. Frank and open discussions were held on better ways to support and manage port welfare in order to improve seafarers access to shore based welfare facilities and enhance their quality of life. The event theme was ‘Create a better world for seafarers” and it opened with speakers from Chinese maritime senior management, the Deputy British Consul and members of the maritime welfare sector who joined together in a symbolic ‘hand shaking ceremony’.

‘The resounding success of the conference is the result of an excellent collaborative, partnership effort, which bodes extremely well for future relations’ stated Peter Tomlin, IPWP Global Programme Director. He added ‘Without regional support from across the the Chinese maritime community, the assistance of Ben Zhang and his team (MFEC, Shanghai), Prof. Minghua and Capt Pengfei (China Centre Maritime, Southampton Solent University), this inaugural event would not have been possible.'

Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, took the opportunity to inform delegates about the important work of his organisation, in particular ‘SeafarerHelp’ its free global seafarers welfare helpline, and Peter Tomlin briefed everyone on the IPWP programme. He underlined topical seafarers’ welfare issues and highlighted the invaluable work of the voluntary organisations and maritime funders who provide and support seafarers’ welfare, which Chinese seafarers benefit from when visiting other ports around the world.

The IPWP programme team also addressed audiences at the first Shanghai Seafarers Forum (800 local delegates) on 9th July and the 3rd Annual International Maritime Silk Road Ports Forum' (460 delegates) held in Ningbo on 12th July.

Published in Latest News

ISWAN warmly welcomes the release of the hostages from the FV Naham 3

Nairobi, Kenya – 22 October 2016: The Hostage Support Partners announce the release of the 26 remaining hostages of the FV Naham 3. The Omani flagged fishing vessel was hijacked on 26 March 2012 roughly 65 nautical miles south of the Seychelles. Of the original 29-member crew, sadly one died during the hijacking and two more succumbed to illness during their captivity. The remaining 26 crewmembers spent much of their captivity on land in Somalia. The crew of the Naham 3 consisted of members from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

“We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew early this morning. They are currently in the safe hands of the Galmudug authorities and will be repatriated using a UN Humanitarian flight shortly and then on to their home countries. They are reported to be in reasonable condition considering their ordeal. They are all malnourished. Four are currently receiving medical treatment by a Doctor in Galcayo. They have spent over four and a half years in deplorable conditions away from their families,” said John Steed the Coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners (HSP) for Oceans Beyond Piracy. I would like to thank the efforts of our Partners, the Galmudug authorities and the local community who made this release possible. In particular, the efforts of Mr Leslie Edwards of Compass Risk Management who has spent the last 18 months negotiating this release, and the work of Holman Fenwick Willan LLP, should be applauded."




The crew of the Naham 3 were held for 1672 days. They are the second longest held hostages by Somali pirates after the 4 hostages of the FV Prantalay 12, released last year by the HSP. Their road to freedom has been long and filled with peril. The Naham 3 was originally tethered to another hijacked vessel, the MV Albedo taken in November 2010 (and released by the HSP in 2013). When the MV Albedo began to sink, with its crew onboard, the crew of the Naham 3 courageously assisted in their rescue by jumping into the ocean to save the drowning seafarers. Over a year after its capture, the Naham 3 sank and the crew was brought ashore, where they were subject to much greater risks. Despite their release today their journey is not over, as the crew will still experience effects from their captivity for years to come. The crew will need comprehensive physical and psychological support in the years to come to help ease their return to a normal life, the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) is stood by to help in this process.

The release of the Naham 3 crew represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy. While overall numbers are down in the Western Indian Ocean, the OBP State of Piracy study found that in 2015, pirates in the region attacked at least 306 seafarers. The threat of piracy remains and the shipping industry is encouraged to continue to follow Best Management Practice 4 to mitigate against the risks of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean.




Richard Neylon and George Lamplough of international law firm Holman Fenwick Wllian LLP, an active member of the Hostage Support Partners commented: "This long road started in 2005 when the first major commercial vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates. Over the past 11 years, the shipping industry and its seafarers have suffered terribly in the hands of Somali pirates. We are delighted and relieved that these last 26 seafarers, captured during the darkest days of Somali piracy, are now able to return home to their families".

Whilst there has not been a successful attack on a commercial vessel since 2012, there have been a number of attacks on fishing vessels and there remains a number of hostages still held in Somalia: 10 Iranians from the FV Siraj (taken in 2015), 3 Kenyan kidnap victims (including a sick lady) remain in the hands of pirates and a number of AMISOM soldiers remain captives of Al Shabaab . Additionally the HSP tracks a number of people who were kidnapped and are still missing after several years, including Dr Murray Watson, Patrick Amukhuma and Dheeraj Tiwari.

ISWAN/MPHRP will assist the seafarers and their families when they return home to their countries.



Published in Latest News

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Yasendy kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.

"Hello, my name is Yasendy. I am from Colon, Panama and I am currently Chief Officer on a cruise line.

My fascination with the sea started when I was 15 years old, went traveled with a group of "Quinceañeras" (in English means fifteen-year-old girls), on board a cruise ship to celebrate our birthday. After that incredible voyage, I fell in love with the sea and cruise ships, so I stated that one day I would be back as a merchant officer.

When the time arrived to go to the university, I was decided and graduated successfully to start my career as Deck Officer. I had a great opportunity to work on tankers sailing in Argentina and met wonderful people that trained me during my cadet period. After that had joined the cruise ships and recently I was promoted to Chief Officer. Now I have a nine years career at sea.

The journey hasn't been easy; I have many difficult situations and challenges to overcome. Like everything in life, they are good and bad people, some that help you, but other that put your obstacles. All in all, there is always a positive lesson to learn, but one thing is that I love the sea. It makes me feel free, makes me feel like dolphins swimming to different destinations, and there is nothing more enjoyable than the view of the sunrise and sunset and the stars or moon while you are at sea. It is just perfect to admire the beautiful God´s creation.
If you follow your dreams, if you loved what you do; you would enjoy life and be happy.

I would like to advise young women never to give up and fight for your dreams; people will always try to choose what is the best for you, but you have to listen to your heart and do what you love not what other think is better for you. Follow your dreams and may you Captain Jesus to be your guide.

Thanks for collecting stories of women at sea. It makes me so proud to see other female colleagues succeed in this career."

Published in Latest News

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Panagiota kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.

I am Panagiota. I come from Greece,especially Peloponisos from a small village nearby the sea. From my early age I decided to follow the sea. Today, I am a 3rd officer from Merchant Marine Academy. I would like to tell you my story.

I am at sea 10 years now. I first started in ro/ro & cruise ships as a sales assistant. Then I joined merchant marine academy and the journey begins. Now ,after tankers,bulk carriers,and container vesels I may say this.."This job is only for those they love it ,despites the sex type. The job is not so easy but not so difficult as it is said. I have travelled around the world, I visited so many places, I now have friends from around the world. My heart pains when I leave my family but also I am happy when I see the sunset around the world.
I love what I do. I encourage younger people to continue even the situations sometimes coming rough.
Besides, if you dont leave the port you never see how is outside...

"Από τότε που κουράστηκα να ψάχνω,
έμαθα να βρίσκω. Κι από τότε που ο άνεμος μου εναντιώθηκε, έμαθα να
σαλπάρω με όλους τους ανέμους..."


"Since I was tired of looking, I learned to find. And since the wind opposed me, I learned to sail with the winds"

Fr. Nietzche

Published in Latest News

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Katerina kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.


I come from Greece and particularly from Kos beautiful island, located in the southeastern Aegean. I am studying at Merchant Marine Academy and working as an Apprentice Officer in one of the largest shipping groups in the Mediterranean, the Attica group. I work on ships in the last two years. So far I have received full support during my training trips from the all the bridge teams that I have worked by far.

Nevertheless a difficulty faced by the majority of women working on ships is sexist attitudes by some colleagues as well as the fact that they consider women unreliable and not able to complete the work assigned to them. To all women who work on ships , I would say to continue their efforts, close their ears to the malicious comments and continue the good work to prove to everyone how much deserve their position.

Otherwise,I believe that women can be work at ships as a man can. The work is not man or woman but love. If you love your job, you 'll be succesful.


Published in Latest News

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.

Published in Latest News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Latest News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Latest News

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

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

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

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

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

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

The SeafarerHelp website is at www.seafarerhelp.org

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

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

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

Can you donate today to support SeafarerHelp? Thank you.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving


Published in Latest News


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Latest News