On May 17, 2011, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) hosts the Grand Reopening of its International Seafarers’ Center in Port Newark, NJ. SCI undertook a major renovation of the Center, completing construction late last year, to establish a first-rate facility for the global shipping industry working in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the East Coast’s largest port.
“The welfare of international trade in the Port of New York and New Jersey hinges on this Center,” says the Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director of SCI. SCI’s Seafarers’ Center offers business services and recreation facilities for transportation workers, providing access to the Internet, telephones, lounges, and food services.
Without shore-based welfare facilities, seafarers, who travel 6-9 months on long transoceanic journeys, would have few, if any, options to access needed services available on land. The International Labour Organisation agrees. Its Convention, MLC 2006, when it comes into force in 2011 or early 2012, requires ports to provide access to these types of facilities.
SCI’s Center in Port Newark stands above most other seafarer centers in existence today. The renovated International Seafarers’ Center houses the 177-year-old Institute’s comprehensive ministry to mariners, including legal counseling, pastoral care, and maritime education. A massive 18,000-square-foot facility helps seafarers, longshoremen, truckers, and other port workers connect with loved ones at home, wire funds to family, relax, and seek support and guidance when needed.
Seafarers, a workforce often hidden from public view, encounter many dangers and difficulties unique to their profession. Challenges include piracy, limited access to shore-side services, and isolation. Today’s mariner works in a relentless environment, experiencing problems relating to 21st-century technology, economic demands, and security concerns.
SCI’s Grand Reopening celebrates the important achievement of establishing a major assistance center for maritime transportation workers, a vital element to our economy. New Jersey’s Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno will speak at the event along with Christopher Ward and Bill Baroni from the Port Authority. The Episcopal Bishop of Newark, the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, will give the dedication blessing.