Seafarers on board a ship detained at the Port of Mobile, Alabama, since March 2016, are being supported by Apostleship of the Sea (AoS).
The Trans Gulf, a roro cargo ship, has been prevented from sailing after it was found with deficiencies. Its current crew were also owed $35,000 in wages.
In December 2017 AoS Mobile Port Chaplain Deacon John Archer received a call from a concerned person about the crew on board the ship so went to see how he could assist.
As food supplies were running low, he arranged for emergency deliveries from Catholic Social Services until money for food provisions was provided.
After speaking with the Mexican crew, Deacon John discovered that they were only receiving a small part of their full wages.
Over the course of the next few months he visited the crew weekly, providing pastoral and practical support to the seafarers.
Deacon John with some crew members during Christmas
Deacon John said, “We provided bibles and spiritual reading materials, transportation to Mass at The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and also to Our Saviour Church, for Mass in Spanish.
He added, “We also took them to a ‘Posada’ with the Hispanic community during Christmas and to a Mardi Gras parade. Our transportation services have allowed the crew to shop for provisions, and send money home when they received some payment from the ship owner. All this helped lift their spirits so they did not feel like they are in prison on the ship.”
The vessel remains in Mobile, and a new crew is in place to look after it. An engineer hired to correct electrical problems on board was not paid and after several weeks returned home.
“AoS has watched over this crew for many months and will continue until all crew members leave port or are safely home,” said Deacon John.
“While some payments have been made the crew still await payment of their full wages. Currently there remains three cadets on board looking after the ship. We will continue to work with our partners in the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA) to ensure the seafarers’ interests are represented,” he said.
Crew members attend Mass at St Saviour Church