ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our SeafarerHelp team supported a member of engine room crew called Ivan* for almost a year after he was injured in an accident on board.
During Ivan’s first contract at sea, he was assigned by a colleague to open a fuel tank. When Ivan opened the tank, gasoline fumes escaped and led to an explosion, causing him to be seriously hurt. Burns covered 55% of his body and he spent a month in hospital recovering from his injuries and the trauma.
Ivan contacted SeafarerHelp via the helpline’s page on Russian social media site VK and reported that the shipowner was showing no sympathy; refusing to accept responsibility for the accident and trying to block him from making contact. Insurance had covered Ivan’s initial medical bills, but he said he had received no support or reassurance from his employer about compensation or future employment.
At the time of the accident, Ivan had 1.5 months left before the end of his contract, but his employer had paid for neither the remaining time on Ivan’s contract or basic sick leave payments. Ivan was left unable to work for a long time after the accident which meant he did not have an income. He felt lost and unprotected.
SeafarerHelp’s Russian speakers provided emotional support in Ivan’s native language and helped by translating documents for him. The team referred him to a number of organisations for further assistance and communicated with the flag state on his behalf to begin the lengthy process of claiming compensation.
Almost a year after Ivan first contacted SeafarerHelp, his case was resolved thanks to the dedicated efforts of the helpline team. All of Ivan’s medical bills were paid by P&I club insurance. The SeafarerHelp team asked Ivan how he was feeling and what plans he had for the future, and he said: ‘I am feeling well and I am trying not to think of the past. I have one more rehabilitation treatment to go through. And I would like to work at sea again soon.’
If you are a seafarer and need help or support, all the contact details for SeafarerHelp can be found at seafarerhelp.org.
*This seafarer’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.