Last week, two members of the ISWAN team visited two ships at the Port of Ipswich to get a feel for life on board and talk to crew members about SeafarerHelp, our free helpline for seafarers.
Rhea from the SeafarerHelp team and Amy, our Digital Media Communications Intern, met Paul Keenan of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for the visit last Tuesday. As the ITF’s Inspector for the North East, Paul was an ideal guide to show us round, greeting the captains of each ship and gaining their permission for a tour onboard.
We visited two cargo ships of different sizes, each with predominantly Russian and Ukrainian crew. The captain of the larger ship chatted to us about how he had always worked at sea, and how he enjoys visiting ports in the UK which do not work throughout the night. We took a trip down from the bridge to the engine room, and then the captain showed us the cabins and galleys for the officers and ratings. Here we met three crew members, who told us about their duties on board and explained how they use social media site VK to keep in touch with family and friends back home.
The comparison between the two ships was interesting – both were carrying timber, but the smaller ship had a significantly smaller engine and less cabins for the smaller crew of seven. It was also an impressive 32 years old, and there were far fewer steps to climb up to the bridge than on the larger ship! We enjoyed seeing the various contraptions used on board to keep objects in place in rough waters, including straps around the washing machine, hooks on the fridge door and bars around the stove top.
Our time at the Port of Ipswich was an enjoyable and enlightening experience, and we would like to thank Paul Keenan from the ITF, as well as the captains and crew of the ships we visited, for accommodating us.