Seafarer charity Stella Maris recently stepped in to assist V.Ships with a challenge resulting from COVID-19 restrictions.
A seafarer, who had been onboard a vessel for over 12 months, was denied disembarkation at Galveston, Houston, due to an expired US visa. Current US policy allows crew changes in the US as long as the seafarer has a valid visa. The crew member, who had been on board for over 12 months, was under severe stress and suffering from poor mental health as a result of his extended time on board.
Ozgur Yilmaz, Global Planning and Service Assurance Director, explains the situation: “With V.Ships unable to secure a visa, we asked Stella Maris for assistance, in the hope that they could provide a local port chaplain to support the seafarer while the visa issues were tackled.
“Thankfully, a Stella Maris chaplain was on hand to provide support. Eventually, we were able to secure a visa waiver for the crew member in order to make the change.”
Stella Maris Galveston Port Chaplain Karen Parsons was on hand to provide support to the seafarer while Fr Sinclair Oubre, Stella Maris Port Chaplain in Port Arthur spoke with Customs and Border Protection which helped resolve the situation.
“The strength of Stella Maris’ network in North America and close partnerships with local agencies helped us act quickly to assist the seafarer and effectively deal with the situation,” said Deacon Paul Rosenblum, Stella Maris Regional Coordinator for North America and the Caribbean.
V.Group maintains a close working relationship with Stella Maris globally and the two organisations work closely together