(Vatican Radio) Sea Sunday is being marked this 9th of July by Christian churches around the world. The day aims to highlight the challenges seafarers face every day, but it also serves as a time to pray for those at sea, their families and those who support them.
John Green, is Director of Development for the Apostleship of the Sea UK. He spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the dangers seafarers face and the isolation they can feel while on board their vessels.
The mobile phone you make calls on, the clothes you wear; chances are that these important everyday items, that we take for granted, are in our possession because they have been shipped to us.
Dangers at Sea
“For most people shipping and seafarers are out of mind, yet 95% of world trade comes by sea”, explains John Green who adds that often seafarers have to make hazardous journeys in order to deliver their cargo on board. “Working at sea is dangerous in the first place just because of the sea… last year’s statistics show that nearly a hundred ships of more than a hundred tonnes sank… and there are about a thousand seafarers who lost their lives…”
He also points out the other big issue that faces seafarers is piracy, and whilst it has declined in recent years, he stresses that it is still present in West Africa and South Asia.
Another aspect of working on the high seas is that seafarers can be on board ships for lengthy periods of time and can feel a real sense of isolation. Green says, “they’re cut off from their families, most seafarers won’t have internet or phone at sea… and on board they will be cut off from each other…”
The Apostleship of the Sea is present in 300 ports around the world and it has a network of port chaplains and volunteers. Their role is to visit those on board and see what their needs are whether it be practical or pastoral assistance.
Apart from the generous support of donations, John Green says that people can play their part in practical ways such as becoming part of an Apostleship of the Sea Port Chaplaincy team which visits seafarers on board ships.