SeafarerHelp supports distressed seafarers wishing to leave their ship

August 17, 2018
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© Robin Colonas

SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A seafarer’s workplace is also his or her home, so the effects of problems like bullying and harassment at work can be worse for those working at sea than for those in shore-based jobs. When the situation on board becomes unbearable seafarers will often contact SeafarerHelp to ask for assistance with repatriation.

An Indonesian seafarer contacted SeafarerHelp from a port in the Netherlands. He said he felt intimidated by the ship’s Chief Officer who was ‘shouting and screaming’ at him all the time. The seafarer also said that he was not getting enough rest and it seemed that there were more issues on board, but due to his limited English he couldn’t fully express his concerns in detail. He was distressed and requested assistance to get out of the situation.

The SeafarerHelp team provided the seafarer with emotional support, and with his permission they referred his case to the port’s International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Inspector. The ITF Inspector was not available to visit the ship; however, he passed the information to a colleague in the Dutch branch of the Nautilus International trade union who agreed to investigate the situation.

Meanwhile, the SeafarerHelp team received further messages from another seafarer on the same vessel who confirmed that three crew members, all Indonesian, were in the same situation and wanted to be repatriated. The team reassured the seafarer and reminded him that SeafarerHelp was always available to provide support to seafarers at any time of the day or night.

Later, the team received confirmation that the vessel had been detained by the port state control because the seafarers’ wages had not been paid. Finally, the three Indonesian seafarers were paid and repatriated. The three seafarers sent a note to the SeafarerHelp team thanking them and expressing their appreciation for the help and emotional support they had received.

If you have a problem on board and need assistance or someone to talk to, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team confidentially – all our contact details can be found at Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.

We rely on charitable grants and donations for our work with seafarers and their families. Help us support those in need worldwide by donating at Virgin Money Giving or JustGiving.

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