More backing for emotional care of sea-going crews

14 May 2020
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Deltalinqs, the Association of Rotterdam Shipbrokers and Agents, and the Port of Rotterdam Authority will encourage support to help organisations that care about the mental well-being of seafarers during this difficult period. This was the outcome of a Port Welfare Committee (PWC) meeting arranged by Harbour Master René de Vries. ‘Right now this work is very important.’

Chaplain to the Port of Rotterdam Dennis Woodward in PPE for working on board
Chaplain to the Port of Rotterdam Dennis Woodward in PPE for working on board

The RPWC is concerned for the mental well-being of the crews on sea-going vessels. It appears that the twelve social and spiritual organisations involved in visiting ships are finding their work difficult due to the extra measures introduced to cope with Covid-19. However, right now this work is very important, according to the Harbour Master and chair of the PWC. ‘I understand the concerns of terminals and shipping companies. Under no circumstances does anyone want Covid-19 on board or at the terminal. We ensure that the organisations we support are well equipped and take due account of the regulations of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The excellent work they do is in the port’s best interests,’ says Bas Janssen, Managing Director of Deltalinqs, the association of port entrepreneurs.

A chat about something different or an extra phone card
‘Now, after ten weeks, the crew changes are slowly getting underway, although in many cases it can take quite a while. That’s not just annoying for the sailors involved, but it isn’t conducive to port safety either. There is a good reason why crews are changed regularly. Seafarers who have been waiting two months for relief and are worried about their loved ones back home can often use a little outside support. A chat about something different, a sympathetic ear and a little understanding from an outsider, or practical things such as an extra phone card so they can ring home can do wonders in such a situation,’ explains Harbour Master René de Vries.

The Association of Rotterdam Shipbrokers and Agents (VRC) also supports the Harbour Master’s initiative. ‘The VRC will point the shipping agents to the importance of emotional support during what is an extremely difficult time for crew members, and that they should help the ship visitors. We will be actively distributing the names of the relevant organisations among the companies involved and drawing their attention to the coronavirus protocol under which the ship visitors operate,’ said Robert Bravenboer on behalf of the VRC.

Dennis Woodward social distancing onboard

Delighted with the attention

Rev. Helene Perfors of the Nederlandse Zeevarendencentrale (Dutch Seafarers’ Centre) and member of the Port Welfare Committee is delighted with the support: ‘We are more than welcome on the vessels. Seafarers are often on board for months at a time and cannot leave their ships to do things like going shopping. They are happy with the attention they get from us and the practical assistance we can provide. For example, with financial support from the Port Welfare Committee, volunteers from the Flying Angel in Schiedam were recently able to give 100 seafarers a bag with things like a phone card and some additional toiletries. Just knowing that people are thinking about them means a great deal to these people.’

Port Welfare Committee

The Port Welfare Committee includes the Port of Rotterdam Authority, the Association of Rotterdam Shipbrokers and Agents (VRC) and the port entrepreneurs’ organisation Deltalinqs. Each year, the committee reserves approximately €140,000 to promote the welfare of crews on sea-going vessels in the broadest sense of the word. The money - contributed by shipping companies, the De Beer Foundation and the Port Authority - is intended for the welfare of seafarers calling at the port of Rotterdam.