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
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."