CSR Submits Data To Coast Guard

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Data supporting shore leave denials across the United States was collected by the Center for Seafarers' Rights (CSR) of the Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey in late February/early March and submitted to the United States Coast Guard. "Ship visiting chaplains reported shore leave denials in selected United States ports. Port chaplains are crucial to reporting the extent of shore leave denials and CSR continues to collect data," said Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of the Center for Seafarers' Rights. "CSR is committed to making the voices of seafarers and port chaplains heard as government agencies and port officials continue to develop port security plans. Shore leave is an essential right that must not be denied to merchant mariners whose help is needed in the battle against terrorism." The Center for Seafarers' Rights conducted a weeklong survey of selected United States ports to assess the extent of and the reasons for denial of shore leave to seafarers. The "snapshot" occurred from February 16 to February 25, 2003 and chaplains continued sending in reports through March 7, 2003.

Port Chaplains from the following ports submitted information: Port of Houston, Texas; Port of New York/New Jersey; Port of Tacoma, Washington; Port Everglades, Florida; Port of Philadelphia/Camden, Pennsylvania; Port of Anchorage, Alaska; Twin Ports (Duluth, Minnesota/Superior, Wisconsin); Port of San Diego, California; Port of Boston, Massachusetts; Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Port of Baltimore, Maryland. Of the ports reporting, Philadelphia reported that 40 percent of all the ships visiting that week experienced shore leave denials, and in Houston, of the 28 ships visited by chaplains, crewmembers on 18 vessels experienced shore leave denial (64 percent of all the ships). The overwhelming reason for the detentions in all of the ports stemmed from mariners' lack of D-1 individual or crew list visas. The Center for Seafarers' Rights also submitted the data to the Coast Guard, as requested at the Public Hearing conducted in New York on February 11, 2003. CSR included examples of shore leave denials complied since late 2001 in the submission. In addition to denials based on visa requirements, many situations involved private tank terminals (oil & gas terminals) prohibiting access to or from vessels tied up at their facilities, irrespective of the crew's immigration status. "CSR's data indicates not only a high number of shore leave denials overall due to lack of visas, but also a significant number of restrictions placed on seafarers even in instances where they possessed visas," said Stevenson. "The United States already places a significant hardship on foreign merchant mariners by being the only major maritime country in the world that requires crewmember visas at all."

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