Our Immingham Port Chaplain Bryony Watson has written a lovely article for the winter edition of Just Now, which is the magazine of Diocese of Nottingham Justice and Peace Commission. Here's the article which we encourage you to read. If you're on Instagram, you can follow Bryony at @immportchaplain
Think for a second of your morning routine.
Light on, cup of coffee, shower, breakfast, into the car. Would any of this have been possible without shipping?
Oil tankers, bulk carriers bringing coal and biomass for our power stations, food, electronics, clothes brought by container ship, cars by a Ro-Ro ferry.
95% of everything we use and take for granted comes to us by ship. We are dependent on the sea, on seafarers, but they are so often invisible to us.
As ships get bigger they are berthed further from our view, as shipping becomes increasingly efficient, the crews get smaller and the hours in port get fewer.
With some vessels able to be in and out of port in just six hours, the crew are more isolated and more exhausted than ever.
The Philippines remains the biggest supplier of seafarers, followed by China, Russia, India and Indonesia, and it is common for ships to be made up of many nationalities.
The standard length of contract for a Filipino seafarer is nine months. Conditions on ships vary greatly from comfortable to primitive, depending on the company.
I work in the UK’s largest port by gross tonnage, the Port of Immingham, as a port chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea, or as the seafarers know us best, Stella Maris.
The Apostleship of the Sea works to support seafarers practically, spiritually and emotionally through the day to day challenges of working in one of the world’s most dangerous professions, and through especially difficult times, such as bullying, accidents onboard and non-payment of wages.
Every day, we see how much seafarers sacrifice to provide for their families and to bring us the goods we rely on. We hear about the weddings they can’t attend, the graduations they have funded but will only see in photos, the baby that may be walking before they return, the goodbyes they didn't get to say.
After the recent, devastating, typhoon in the Philippines a cook onboard an oil tanker told me that it had taken him four days to contact his wife, frantic with worry for her and his two young daughters.
When he finally got through his wife told him that the kitchen roof had been blown off, and water was pouring in through the ceiling. His daughters hadn’t slept for days as they were too scared.
He is onboard until April, earning the money they need now more than ever.
So, the next time you make a cup of coffee or turn on the TV, spare a thought for the seafarers who make this possible.