To those of us who live in the north east and who use the various coastal routes, ships which are anchored offshore are a familiar sight.
This is particularly so at Hartlepool/Seaton Carew, Marske, Redcar and Saltburn. These are ships which could be awaiting the availability of a berth in order to come alongside in the port, or which have perhaps discharged a cargo, and have put out in to the bay to await further orders.
Either way ships can sometimes be at the ‘anchorage’ for days, weeks or even months. Even so, for the seafarers on board, work must go on whatever the conditions.
In recent times one vessel, having discharged it’s cargo at Teesport, was anchored in the bay during bad weather when Emilian Stanshev, a Bulgarian crew member was cleaning the deck.
Without warning, a strong gust of wind swept him off his feet and he fell several metres into the hold below, badly injuring his right knee and left ankle. In view of the severity of the injuries, the Hartlepool Lifeboat was launched and Emilian was carefully brought to land and transferred to North Tees Hospital.
Photo courtesy of Mathew Blanchard
At this point, Deacon Peter Barrigan, the Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain for Tees and Hartlepool was made aware of the seafarer’s plight and he quickly made contact with him in hospital.
Emilian underwent surgery and spent a further two weeks receiving ongoing treatment. Throughout this time he received further visits from Deacon Peter and members of his volunteer ship visitor team, who were able to provide assistance with toiletries, chocolate, additional clothing, fruit and juice and help to enable him to call home to Bulgaria to speak to his family.
Eventually Emilian was discharged and repatriated. However, Peter continued his support and subsequently spoke to him at home.
He was full of praise for those who brought him ashore, the medical teams and surgeons who worked on his injuries, and to the AoS for their ongoing practical and pastoral care while he was in hospital.
Although Emilian could speak English, Peter was very grateful to Rev Catherine Reid of the Mission to Seafarers who was on hand to assist with translation when technical issues to do with his treatment were necessary.