News Archive 2017

The MNWB is extremely pleased to announce that volunteer Alexe Finlay, who has given outstanding support to seafarers’ welfare on the Tees for nearly 30 years, has been unanimously selected as the winner of this year’s Annual Awards for Services to Seafarers' Welfare 2017. 
Since arriving on the Tees area in 1989, Alexe Finlay’s contribution to the maritime sector, particularly as a seafarers’ welfare volunteer, has been exceptional. 
Passionate and dedicated, Alexe has acted as a proactive member, Secretary, Vice Chair or Chair of a plethora of maritime community bodies - Tees and Hartlepool Port Users' Association, Mission to Seafarers (North and South Tees), RNLI Teesmouth Station, German Seamen’s Mission and the MNWB Tees Port Welfare Committee. However she is also a ‘hands on’ person who is seen regularly in the Seafarers’ Centre, serving behind the bar, driving the minibus and organising volunteer staff rotas so that the Tees’ centres remain open.
Alexe fully utilises her excellent communication skills and resilient, resourceful and resolute nature, being calm under pressure, dependable and reliable, able to instil confidence and inspire others to follow her example of clear thinking and sharp focus. Alèxe is a person who treats others with dignity and respect, never asking of anyone what she herself would not do. 
The catalyst for positive change, Alexe - through the Port User Group - has further developed and encouraged the port levy system, which has been in operation on the Tees for some 40 years. Therefore, the four welfare organisations each receive a regular, monthly revenue stream, with monies collected from each vessel visiting the Tees. This model of port levy has become a benchmark for other ports, recognised by the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).  
This encapsulates Alexe’s way of thinking, constantly seeking to achieve a completely integrated system where the river works as a whole; a model where port safety and security is ring fenced and the diverse needs of visiting vessels and seafarers are understood. Her influence has ensured that the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code has been implemented in a way that does not marginalise seafarers wishing to come ashore. Her impact in this respect has been pivotal in the way in which seafarers are treated.
Her contribution to marine industry on Teesside has been innovative, steadfast and trusted for over nearly three decades.  She has also been involved in setting national UK standards for integrated emergency response; oil pollution prevention; port waste; training for harbour masters and pilots; vessel traffic management systems; marine safety compliance.
With Alexe’s assistance, the MNWB Tees Port Welfare Committee has developed from a disparate group of people meeting quarterly, to a team of professionals using skills and expertise to review and support ‘front line’ welfare provision, problem solve and ultimately enhance seafarers’ quality of life.  
The award will be presented to Alexe at the MNWB PWC Conference on 29 November 2017. The Board would like to take this opportunity to thank its constituent members for nominating such a worthy group of candidates.
2017 Recipients of the Merchant Medal for Meritorious Service (added 26.09.17)

Mr Andrew Armstrong, for services to seafarer training
Mr Anthony Cash, for services to seafarer welfare and the Merchant Navy Association
Captain Stephen Clinch, for services to the safety of ships and seafarers
Captain Geoffrey Cowap, for services to the careers of young seafarers
Mr Patrick Dolby, for services to international ship safety standards and seafarer welfare
Mr Allan Graveson, for services to seafarer training, welfare and safety
Captain Mark Holden, for services to the offshore maritime industry
Captain John Hughes, for services to environmental protection at sea
Mr Francis Kelly, for services to apprenticeships for ratings
Captain Charles Kelso, for services to the shipping industry and sea cadets
Lt CDR Mark Kemmis Betty, for services to the Merchant Navy and seafarer welfare
Captain Andrew O'Brian, for services to maritime careers and charity
Mr Francis O'Neill, for services to marine engineering
Mr Ian Spreadborough, for services to seafarer training and careers
Mr Stephen Todd, for services to seafarer employment, training and welfare
Captain Jamie Wilson, for services to the rescue of refugees in peril

Port of Tyne introduces welfare fund to support merchant shipping
(added 11.09.17)
A new fund has been launched to help ships’ crew members who may need welfare support while visiting the Port of Tyne.  Over 100,000 seafarers arrive at the Port of Tyne each year.  The welfare, conditions and pay of seafarers varies greatly around the world. Some merchant ships can be at sea for nine months or more at any one time, meaning the crew are away from their families for long periods.

The Port of Tyne welfare fund has created an option for shipping lines to pay a voluntary levy each time one of their vessels come into Port. The Port of Tyne then matches the levy, contributing 50p for every £1 collected through the welfare fund. The optional levy is based on a vessel’s Gross Tonnage and ranges from £20 to £30 per ship, payable on the vessel’s first ten visits to the Port each calendar year.

In 2016 around £10,000 was raised by the Port of Tyne welfare fund and will be distributed to projects that support seafarers, via the Merchant Navy Welfare Board - providing funding to the principal welfare organisations that provide services to seafarers visiting the Tyne, including the Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of the Sea and Fishermen’s Mission – all of which are dependent entirely on charitable donations. The Merchant Navy Welfare Board is now hoping to set up similar schemes in other UK ports.

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to work with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and introduce a scheme that provides practical help and support to the many ships’ crews who come in to our port. Targeted specifically for crew members who may need some support in a variety of ways, whether that is a phone call to contact their families, get some welfare advice or provide emergency care, we hope it will help to make a difference.”

Peter Tomlin, Merchant Navy Welfare Board Chief Executive, said: “With ships carrying over 90 per cent of the globe’s raw materials, commodities, and manufactured goods it is really important to the global economy to ensure the welfare of seafarers in ports around the world.
“The scheme introduced by the Port of Tyne will made a tangible difference to local charities in Tyneside that work hard to support seafarers in need.”

The Port of Tyne’s welfare fund will further enable visits to ships, legal support, translation and communication support, counselling, transport and emergency care.

Maritime agencies unite during London International Shipping Week to launch Seafarers' Welfare Partnership Progamme and debate fair shipping (added 08.09.17)
AnchorMaritime agencies unite during London International Shipping Week to launch Seafarers' Welfare Partnership Progamme and debate fair shipping (added 08.09.17)

The International Seafarers Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN) will officially launch its highly acclaimed International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) programme during London’s International Shipping Week at a formal Business Breakfast in the historic setting of Trinity House from 08:00 to 10:00 on Wednesday 13 September 2017. The IPWP programme is based on a small but highly impressive pilot project that ended in May 2016, having successfully established seafarers’ ‘welfare boards’ in Europe, Africa, Australia and America.  
As part of the same event the four maritime welfare charities that LISW17 is supporting have also organised a debate entitled ‘Fair Shipping: does it exist?’. The panelists are: Tom Holmer of ISS, Nicola Good of Fairplay Magazine, Natalie Shaw of ICS, Andrew Wright of Mission to Seafarers, Kuba Syzmanski of Intermanager and Phil Parry of Spinnaker International.

Designed to bring together maritime leaders, the Business Breakfast will show how the IPWP programme, a joint initiative managed by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) on behalf of ISWAN, is driven by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006, Regulation 4.4).  The MLC 2006 advocates the establishment of seafarers’ welfare boards to co-ordinate and improve “access to shore-based welfare services”, for the benefit of the seafarers’ workforce, worldwide. The MNWB has successfully operated welfare boards, also known as Port Welfare Committees (PWCs), for nearly 70 years and is keen to partner ISWAN to share best practice with the rest of the maritime sector. 

ISWAN Executive Director, Roger Harris, said “Despite increased public awareness that the shipping industry is vital to our daily lives and trade around the world, there’s still little understanding about the challenges facing seafarers.  Life at sea has always been hard but never more so than today. Separated from family and friends with ever smaller crews and shorter turnarounds, seafarers can often face isolation and loneliness, depression, harassment and bullying whilst at sea.” 

Peter Tomlin, Chief Executive of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) and IPWP Programme Director, agreed saying “That’s why welfare facilities and services in port are so important for seafarers, providing a “home from home” where they can rest, recuperate and contact family and friends in a safe, welcoming environment.”

He added “We recognise the tremendous efforts made by the numerous organisations, particularly in the voluntary sector, that support seafarers’ welfare in ports.  We hope the truly collaborative and supportive nature of our partnership programme will enable the maritime community to work even closer together to improve welfare conditions for seafarers across the globe’

Funded by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, TK Foundation, Seafarers’ UK and MNWB, the programme boasts an Executive Committee made up of Ship owners, Unions, Port Authorities/Owners, Government, Maritime Funders and Voluntary Organisation representatives, all of whom are keen to promote better seafarers’ welfare in ports under MLC, 2006. It is therefore fitting that the IPWP launch is held in the presence of maritime decision makers and key stakeholders during LISW17. 

Hands of Love - Merchant Navy Commemoration - Saturday 2nd September(added 21.08.2017)

Our Port Horizon project has discovered that the ancestors of Southampton’s Black & Minority Communities in Southampton who were Merchant Navy seaman sacrificed a great deal during World War One & World War Two. Among their contributions, they ensured  vital wartime supplies and support from friendly nations reached Britain. These are the legacies of port cities like Southampton – but those stories are not often heard or shared.
Unity 101 Community Radio and the Port Horizon project have arranged a gathering to acknowledge the contributions of our forefathers in the British Merchant Navy and all the people from the Police, Fire and Ambulance The event is not a celebration of war, neither a replacement for Merchant Navy Day. It will be Southampton’s first BME, multi-faith, “thank you”.

 It will take place at Guildhall Square from 12.30pm, on Saturday 2nd September 2017. Complimentary food will be provided by four local faith groups. It is hoped people of all ethnicities and faiths will join us to commerate those we have lost and to say: “Thank you, you are not forgotten and we will not allow history to forget what you did, and share the hand of love.”

Running order for the event:

  • Events open – 12.30pm
  • Master of Ceremony – Sangeeta Barbara from ITV Meridian
  • Mayor of Southampton Councillor Les Harris
  • Deputy Lord Lieutenant  Rear Admiral Iain Henderson CB CBE DL
  • Merchant Navy Welfare Board former CEO David Parsons
  • Superintendent Alison Heydari from Hampshire Constabulary
  • Assistant Chief Officer Stew Adamson  from Hampshire Fire Rescue Service
  • John Richards, Chief Officer, Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Ravi Parmar – Chair of Southampton Council of Faiths
  • Common prayer  
  • Share Hand of Love with person next to you
  • Poem by Bob Purkis MBE
  • Share food donated by Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim faiths
  • Close 2pm

Shanghai & Ningbo Celebrations Include Seafarers’ Port Welfare 
It was a full house at the first ‘Maritime Silk Road Ports & Seafarers Seminar’ held in Shanghai on 7th July.  Organised by the ISWAN International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) programme, the event was attended by over 100 representatives from the Shanghai regional maritime sector. Frank and open discussions were held on better ways to support and manage port welfare in order to improve seafarers access to shore based welfare facilities and enhance their quality of life.  The event theme was ‘Create a better world for seafarers” and it opened with speakers from Chinese maritime senior management, the Deputy British Consul and members of the maritime welfare sector who joined together in a symbolic ‘hand shaking ceremony’. 

‘The resounding success of the conference is the result of an excellent collaborative, partnership effort, which bodes extremely well for future relations’  stated Peter Tomlin, IPWP Global Programme Director. He added ‘Without regional support from across the the Chinese maritime community, the assistance of Ben Zhang and his team (MFEC, Shanghai), Prof. Minghua and Capt Pengfei (China Centre Maritime, Southampton Solent University), this inaugural event would not have been possible.'  
Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, took the opportunity to inform delegates about the important work of his organisation, in particular ‘SeafarerHelp’ its free global seafarers welfare helpline, and Peter Tomlin briefed everyone on the IPWP programme.  He underlined topical seafarers’  welfare issues and highlighted the invaluable work of the voluntary organisations and maritime funders who provide and support seafarers’ welfare, which Chinese seafarers benefit from when visiting other ports around the world. 
The IPWP programme team also addressed audiences at the first Shanghai Seafarers Forum (800 local delegates) on 9th July and the 3rd Annual International Maritime Silk Road Ports Forum'  (460 delegates) held in Ningbo on 12th July.   

Captain David Parson's Retirement Speech at Trinity House reception 19th July 2017 (added 25.07.2017)

Captain David Parson's Retirement

Well here I am a few days away from the end of an era.  When I left P&O Ferries in 1993 to come to the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, I never realised that nearly 24 years later I would still be here and all I can say is what a huge privilege it has been...Click here to continue reading


Gibraltar Supports Syrian Crew (added 27.02.17)

On 17th September 2016, after a total of 56 days at sea, large Push Tug ‘Dios’ & Barge ‘Diosa’ arrived in Gibraltar for provisions. The Panamanian flagged vessel with a Syrian, Egyptian and Somali crew had sailed from Gabon, West Africa.  On arrival, Port State control identified a significant number of deficiencies making the vessel unseaworthy.  Furthermore, one member of the crew was sick and had not been able to see a doctor. As a result, Gibraltar Maritime Administration (GMA) detained the vessel and on further investigation identified the fact that the crew had not been paid for months.
Gibraltar Seafarers’ Welfare Board (GSWB) Chairman and Welfare Board Manager visit remaining Syria crewmembersThe GMA immediately informed Gibraltar Seafarers’ Welfare Board (GSWB) members and trained ship welfare visitors attended the vessel to provide welfare support to the individual seafarers.

Jose M. Ortega, ITF National Co-ordinator Spain, stated “At the request of Rob Cumbes, Chief Surveyor of GMA, I inspected the vessel with Patrick Sellhorn Panama Flag State Inspector on November 4th 2017.”

The sensitive political situation surrounding nationalities coupled with the war in Syria compounded crew issues, however, ITF worked hard to recover unpaid wages and helped repatriate the majority of the crew.

Only a skeleton crew of Syrian seafarers now remain on board and they receive regular visits from GSWB member organisations, in particular Apostleship of the Sea and Mission to Seafarers volunteers. They are provided with free phone cards to contact their families, shopping essentials and allowed access to the ‘drop in’ seafarers centre in Gibdock, which has a free Wi-Fi service, pool table, telephone, small library and a TV.
‘With many family members living in war torn Syria, this continues to be an extremely stressful time for the crew’ stated Capt. James Ferro MBE, GSWB Chairman and volunteer ship welfare visitor. 
With the support of the Gibraltar Port Authority, the welfare board has provided a forum to encourage and promote interagency collaboration and ensured that these unfortunate crewmembers receive the support they need.  

"It is heartening to see the Port community in Gibraltar working closely together in support of unfortunate seafarers stranded so far from their loved ones" stated Bob Sanguinetti, CEO and Captain of the Port, Gibraltar Port Authority
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