Replacing Isolation with Belonging aboard the TMT-owned tanker ‘A Whale’ – Current situation

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Number 205 *** COLLECTION OF MARITIME PRESS CLIPPINGS ***  Wednesday 24-07-2013

The Sailors’ Society aims to meet the needs of seafarers when they are most needed and that has been tested in the case of the abandoned crew of the TMT-owned tanker A WHALE.

Abandoned for six months the crew of A WHALE stranded off Suez have experienced a roller- coaster of emotions not knowing when their situation will be resolved. Pawns in an immensely complex legal case, they have suffered through lack of basic supplies. When the predominantly Indian crew first contacted maritime charity, the Sailors’ Society, the situation sounded beyond desperate, with concerns over critically low supplies of food, drinking water and bunkers.

Amidst the words of their early emails to the Society came the overwhelming sense of isolation and abandonment. The crew were desperate for someone to listen, to care and to act on their behalf: “It is our request to you, to keep a track of us till the time our situation comes back to normal, because we are afraid that if our company does not provides fuel on time then we will even lose this little means of communication that we have, as ships communication is already out of order & not being fixed by company. Your follow up is very much required.”

The charity responded assuring them that we would do everything they could to help. As the crew had not been paid for six months they were desperately concerned about family at home. One seafarer had not been able to send promised money to his pregnant wife, and a second, with an elderly widowed mother (his father having died at sea), knew their loved ones would be going hungry without their wages to help. The charity assessed the need and arranged for crisis payments to be made.

The relief was evident in the reply they received “This was the happiest day of my seafaring life” wrote the grateful seafarer. Since that first email the Society has been in daily contact with the crew. Taking up their cry and advocating on their behalf with the various parties involved; and that tone of desperation and loneliness in the first emails has reduced. The company has now delivered water and bunkers and their satellite communications have been reconnected, so the crew have a sense that their plight might almost be over.

Jan Webber, Director of Fundraising who has liaised with the crew commented, “it’s the duty and privilege of charities like ours to be able to meet the needs of seafarers where and when they most need us, of course this is just one case of desperation and we hear hundreds through our chaplains who are on the ground listening to the worries and struggles of seafarers far from home for months at a time.” On this occasion, the charity were pleased to be in the right place at the right time to help the captain and crew.

If you would like to know more about the work of the Sailors’ Society or to find out how you can support the maritime charity please visit www.sailorssociety.org contact Scot Bower sbower@sailors-society.org.

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