Extra 5,000 SIM cards for Ukrainian seafarers

Maritime charity, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), has secured an additional 5,000 SIM cards for Ukrainian seafarers to ensure they can contact their beloved families and friends as the crisis in their country continues.

The SIM cards, which the MNWB has secured through Vodafone’s nationwide charities.connected scheme, will be delivered to Ukrainian seafarers during their ongoing visits to UK ports.

Since the conflict in Ukraine began over 200 days ago, the MNWB has delivered 8,000 SIM cards to Ukrainians working in the maritime sector.

Stuart Rivers, Chief Executive of MNWB which is the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets that provides welfare services to seafarers, fishermen and their dependents, said:

“It’s almost unthinkable that the war in Ukraine has been going on for seven relentless months – with still no clear end in sight.

“During this time, the SIM cards we’ve delivered have offered a lifeline for many Ukrainian seafarers, who are thousands of miles from their families and friends to make crucial phone/video calls – something you cannot put a price on. The stories we’ve heard from Ukrainian seafarers have been truly heart-breaking with so many lives being lost during the conflict.”

“Being able to offer reassurance and glimpses of happiness at this time can make a difference, as the demand for these SIMs remains high since we handed out the first batch earlier this year. Our thanks go to Vodafone for facilitating this much-needed project.”

Each Pay as You Go SIM card contains 20GB data with unlimited texts and UK calls. The seafarers can use Facebook, WhatsApp or FaceTime for overseas calls using the data allowance while in the UK.

The retail value of each card is £20 a month, and they have a six-month validity, so each is worth £120 – with the total amount of 5,000 SIMs equating to £600,000.

Emma Reynolds, Head of Communications, Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs at Vodafone UK, said:

“We hope, that by providing free connectivity to the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and the other amazing charities across the UK who have such an enormous impact on their local communities, we can help create a more inclusive digital society.”

It’s estimated there are 75,000 Ukrainian seafarers across the world, thousands of whom have benefitted from this scheme.

MNWB will be giving out the SIM cards via frontline maritime charities who can apply for the number they require by emailing