John Attenborough Port Chaplain The Mission to Seafarers Southampton



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It was a cold and damp night on Saturday the 3rd of January 2015. I received a call, at around 11pm, from the coastguard telling me that a vessel had run aground in the Solent off Southampton and that a maritime chaplaincy team was needed urgently to assist. I called Stephen Hulbert, Manager at the Centre for Seafarers Southampton. We both arrived at the Station at around midnight. Two seafarers had already been rushed to hospital due to injuries they sustained as the ship suddenly listed 52 degrees. The remaining bewildered crew were deeply shaken by such a terrifying event. They were evacuated amidst a tense atmosphere, with police, paramedics and the Port Authority all working hard to save the seafarers and secure the ship.

As you read this there are crews around the world relying on us for vital supplies and assistance during an emergency.

My presence brought a calming atmosphere to the situation. The crew had an immediate sense of relief and trust when we turned up; they knew that all would soon be well. We transported the men to the Centre for Seafarers Southampton where we provided them with urgently needed warm clothing and food. We also supplied them with sim cards and phone cards to call home. Just imagine how much a simple call home meant after such an ordeal.

The 24 men were transferred to a local hotel. Our care did not stop there, as we spent the next five weeks visiting them every day, providing emotional, spiritual and practical support until they were repatriated home.

For nearly 160 years The Mission to Seafarers has been working for the welfare of those at sea. Today, just as in 1856, we rely completely on the generosity of people like you. Your support at this time is vital to the continuation of our work – and the need for our services grows every day. Without you, there simply wouldn’t be the global network of support that gives hope and help to so many.

The Mission to Seafarers will be here for as long  as seafarers need us.

Seafarers exchange the safety and familiarity of home to undertake dangerous and lonely work bringing us the daily essentials we rely on. When things go wrong they are often left powerless and vulnerable. Unable to speak the local language or forbiddento leave the port area, decisions are made for them and often they are the last to be considered when trouble strikes. Without The Mission to Seafarers’ intervention these young men would have been left with no help or support and no one to offer the hand of friendship to them in their time of need. In May this year the Hoegh Osaka was back in Southampton and I met with one of the crew who had been involved in the tragedy that unfolded in January. The seafarer came straight up to me and we both smiled immediately. Meeting him was like seeing a long lost friend.

Your gift will help to ensure that we are there giving practical support wherever and whenever The Mission to Seafarers is needed.

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