Global maritime charity Stella Maris has emphasised the need to 'get back to basics' in crew welfare provision in a World Maritime Day message for 2021.
Stella Maris chief executive Martin Foley said the day's theme, 'Seafarers: At The Core of Shipping's Future', is 'an excellent reminder that seafarers really are at the heart of world trade and are frontline heroes.'
Despite the growth in digital welfare provision made necessary by the pandemic, key issues faced by seafarers persist such as abandonment, crew change difficulties, lack of shore leave, non-payment of wages and piracy, said Mr Foley.
'In our experience nothing can replace the face-to-face friendship and care provided by our chaplains and ship visitors. Because of this, seafarers know us, trust us and look for us in ports.'
Stella Maris is also building on its partnerships with ship managers, owners, P&I clubs and legal firms, all of which it said was 'vital in ensuring the right assistance is given to seafarers in a timely manner, and in times of crisis.'
The charity's head of corporate engagement and partnerships Ian Stokes paid tribute to the business support it had received for its international work to support seafarers in the UK and across the world through its chaplains network, provision of with MiFi (mobile WiFi) units, phone SIM cards, clothing, food and toiletries and other requests for assistance. It is being sponsored by Britannia P&I Club on World Maritime Day for the third successive year.
'Stella Maris is hugely grateful for the significant and sustained support by Britannia which enables it to make a significant impact on the welfare and wellbeing of seafarers,' said Mr Stokes.
Claims director at Britannia P&I Ella Hagell said: 'Britannia is delighted to continue to support the vital work of Stella Maris to help seafarers in ports around the world. The past year or so has been especially challenging for seafarers and the support provided by charities like Stella Maris is more important than ever to support the welfare and wellbeing of crew.'
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) designated 2021 as the year of action for seafarers. IMO headquarters will be lit blue on World Maritime Day, 30 September 2021, as part of efforts to highlight seafarers and their core role in shipping and its future. Going forward, the IMO building, including the Seafarer Memorial, will be bathed in blue light on each World Maritime Day as a symbolic initiative to unite the maritime community and raise awareness of the vital contribution of shipping to the world.