Mission to Seafarers Extends Assistance to Ukrainian Mariners

Port of Odessa (George Chernilevsky / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Mar 8, 2022 11:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Mission to Seafarers is stepping up its relief effort for Ukrainian mariners who find themselves far from home at a time of national emergency. The need for communications with loved ones and pastoral support is high, the charity reports, as the Russian invasion has many Ukrainian nationals worried about the fate of their families. 

In a statement Tuesday, the Mission to Seafarers said that it is adjusting its charitable relief fund to allow additional payments for seafarer communications at a local level, including allowances for SIM cards and MiFi units. Its emergency fund can also be accessed to help with stranded seafarers if it should be necessary. 

The charity is also looking for options to provide more resources for counseling in Ukrainian and Russian in order to give crewmembers access to “own language” mental health support.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of the Mission to Seafarers, said that his chaplains have found "tremendous anxiety and stress" among Russian and Ukrainian seafarers, who often find themselves working alongside each other as shipmates. Wright shared several examples of reports from chaplains who have visited ships with Ukrainian and Russian crews. 

"Sad. Seven Ukrainians and six Russians onboard.  No fighting but very sad," one chaplain reported. "They cannot go home. They cannot have crew changes. Some on board for 9.5 months. Last time I visited they were so cheerful, just awful with what they are going through."

Ukrainian seafarers who are working on board may have difficulty returning home at the end of their contracts, and the Marine Transport Workers Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) has advised that vessel operators should provide flights to neighboring friendly countries - for example, Poland or Moldova - for those mariners who wish to disembark. The union recommends that Ukrainian seafarers should extend their contracts and stay on board, if possible.