News

Shipping Minister visits cargo ship and praises Catholic seafarers' charity

15/09/2005

The Minister of State for Transport, on a visit to Sheerness Docks in Kent, has congratulated the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) for its vital work in caring for seafarers whose human needs are so often overlooked in a globalised industry.

The Rt Hon Dr Stephen Ladyman MP, the Minister responsible for shipping, visited the AOS chaplaincy team in Sheerness Docks, part of the Port of Medway, on 14th September. The aim of the visit was to allow the Minister to experience how AOS provides practical and pastoral support to seafarers who are working so far away from home. To this end he accompanied the AOS Chaplain, Deacon Daniel Mulcahy, on a ship visit to the Ice Ranger, a Cayman Islands-registered refrigerated cargo ship which was importing fruit from South Africa. The Minister met members of the crew from various Eastern European countries, and was taken on a guided tour of the ship by its Polish captain.

The Minister was also taken to the communications room opened recently by AOS inside a spare port building where seafarers can make use of the three telephone booths to contact loved ones back home during their short time ashore. Seafarers can go for over a year without seeing their family. Afterwards he visited the port's navigation centre and saw at first-hand how many ships navigate the waters of the Medway on a daily basis.

During a meeting with representatives of AOS and port authorities, Commodore Chris York, AOS National Director, briefed the Minister on the work of AOS and the importance of recognising the rights and vulnerability of seafarers. Dr Ladyman had a chance to speak with AOS volunteers, staff and trustees, and said: "The difficulties mariners face as they work away from home for long periods are often overlooked, and so I congratulate AOS and their teams of volunteers for filling this gap by being there in port to welcome seafarers."

Information for editors

The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) is an independent charity, wholly reliant on voluntary donations, which provides the Catholic Church's outreach to seafarers. It was founded in Scotland in 1922 and is now active in over 100 countries worldwide. In Great Britain it is an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland.

Ninety-five percent of world trade is carried by ship, and so the work of seafarers is vital to our everyday lives. Away from homes and family for a year at a time, bringing us the goods we use and consume every day, seafarers themselves often suffer loneliness, depression, dangerous working conditions, low wages and exploitation. AOS deploys Port Chaplains and ship visitors to provide practical and pastoral assistance to seafarers, regardless of creed or nationality. It also helps to run seafarers' centres in ports, provides chaplains for cruise ships, and promotes the rights of seafarers on a national and international level.

For more information, or photographs, please contact Julia Robinson (director of fundraising & communications) or Dominic Baster (communications & press Officer) at the Apostleship of the Sea on 020 7588 8285.