Seafarers Get Time for Shore Leave During Felixstowe Strike
The strike at the Port of Felixstowe is creating challenges for UK importers and exporters, and it has also delayed several vessels within the port complex. For at least one crew, this meant an opportunity for shore leave, with help from the seafarers’ charity Stella Maris.
Felixstowe port chaplain Julian Wong went on board the container vessel George Washington Bridge before the start of the strike to meet the crew, and he left them his contact details in case they needed to get in touch.
The ship was scheduled to leave the port on August 20, but its departure was delayed, so the crew had to stay on board. On August 24, Julian visited again.
“They were all fine and some said they would like to go into town as they had been on board, within the confines of the port, for a few days now,” said Julian. “They needed to exchange some currency and wanted to do a bit of shopping.”
The seafarers were happy and clearly relieved to spend a few hours away from their vessel, he said. Julian also lent them mobile WiFi (miFi) units provided by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, so they had access to free and dependable WiFi on board during their stay.
Julian also helped reunite a Filipino crew member from the ship with his brother, whom he had not seen in person for seven years. The brother was an engineer who lives in Nottingham and had travelled to Felixstowe, hoping to meet the seafarer. Julian drove the seafarer to a cafe in town for the reunion.
“With the ongoing strike a lot of people’s attention is, understandably, focused on operational and business matters. At Stella Maris we continue to focus on the seafarers who live and work on board these ships,” said Julian. “I am glad to be able to provide them some relief, which helps with their overall wellbeing.”