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If a ship is detained in a port, it’s often to AoS that the crew will first turn for help.

Earlier this year, Barbara Thomas, an AoS ship visitor in Cardiff, came to the aid of a group of seafarers who were left stranded on The Sunflower E in Newport docks for three months after it was caught up in a legal dispute.

"I spent time speaking to the crew about their concerns, their families and ensuring they had the means to make contact with home. Although food was provided, I brought food for a diabetic crew member. Parishioners in my parish, St Philip Evans in Cardiff, also gave cash donations to the crew,” she explained.

The crew, who were from the Philippines, Indonesia and Romania, had not been paid their wages since January.

Barbara said that one Filipino crew member was seriously ill on arrival at the port and ended up being sent to hospital, where he received chemotherapy. She used her contacts with some of the local Filipino community to ensure that he was visited regularly before he was flown home.

Apostleship of the Sea port chaplains and ship visitors support seafarers faith and welfare needs

During the 15 weeks the crew were stranded, Barbara also used her contacts in her parish and in St Patrick’s parish, Newport, as well as her ecumenical links with other seafarers’ charities, to organise help for the crew.

Three crew members were taken to and from Mass each week and another seafarer was taken to the Easter Mass at the Romanian Orthodox church.

When the ship’s boiler broke down, Barbara arranged for the crew to have hot showers at the YMCA in Newport.

The crew were on a rollercoaster of emotions, she added, as promises of “good news tomorrow” never materialised. “Helping the crew to understand what was happening on the legal front was even more significant the longer their stay lasted. Visits became increasingly important to them and gave them a chance for them to vent their feelings. They were assured that they were not forgotten and that everything possible was being done and would be done to help them.”

After the crew were repatriated in June, one of them sent an email to express his gratitude: “One good thing that’s come out of me being stuck for three and a half months was I found friends and met good people like you. I will always remember and cherish all the good things you’ve done to all of us. Thank you so much and God bless each one of you and your families.”

It’s only thanks to the generosity of our supporters that AoS can make a difference to the lives of seafarers. And continuing to support AoS means that we can carry on providing much needed help to seafarers.