Seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) is helping Ukrainian seafarers establish contact with their families back home following the crisis in Crimea.
Some of the seafarers, who had been at sea for the past few weeks, only received news of the trouble when their ships came into port.
AoS’ Immingham port chaplain Fr. Colum Kelly met the Ukrainian crew of a coal bulker when it arrived at the port a few days ago. The 23 crew members had been at sea for over a month and only found out about the situation in Crimea after watching television.
“It came as a massive shock to them and needless to say they were very anxious and desperate to talk to their families back home. It became paramount that they establish contact with their loved ones as soon as possible,” said Fr. Colum.
Fr. Colum immediately set up connections to the internet so the men were able to speak with their families.
“They were all very relieved once that was done and found that their loved ones were safe. It felt almost surreal as the crew were totally unaware of the extent of the crisis and only came to know after arriving in Immingham,” he said.
They are an estimated 39,000 Ukrainian seafarers worldwide, making the country a major supplier of seafarers.
Wojciech Holub, AoS’ port chaplain in Tilbury provided encouragement to the only Ukrainian seafarer who was onboard a Russian ship with a full Russian crew. The ship arrived at the port on Ash Wednesday.
“In times like these it is important to be ambassadors of reconciliation,” he said.