One of the first ports in the world to pilot an international initiative to protect and enhance the welfare of seafarers has been launched in Antigua and Barbuda.
International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN) project manager and UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board Deputy Chief Executive Peter Tomlin visited St. John’s to help spearhead the new Antigua and Barbuda Port Welfare Committee.
Funded by the International Transport Workers Federation Seafarers Trust, the project aims to improve the welfare services and support made available to seafarers when they call in at different ports around the world.
“The men and women who live and work at sea are often away from their families and friends for many months, working long hours at demanding jobs, landing at foreign countries for only short periods of time,” Mr. Tomlin said.
Currently, there are few welfare facilities dedicated to seafarers on the island but this will be assessed by the newly formed Antigua and Barbuda Port Welfare Committee, which comprises membership from across the local maritime sector.
Mr. Tomlin said the role of the new committee would be to identify and build on existing services provided by the maritime community and provide a forum where all organizations that look after seafarers’ welfare can be coordinated.
If the pilot program is successful, it could be rolled out to 8,000 ports in 200 countries around the world.
The Antigua and Barbuda Port Welfare Committee comprises of Mr. Darion Lake as Chairman, with Mr. Colin Plummer as Vice Chairman and Ms. Annabel Fuller as Administrator. The new committee has representation so far from Government departments such as the Antigua Port Authority, Immigration, Tourism and the Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS), as well as ship owners, unions and voluntary organizations such as ABSAR are also involved.
Mr. Lake sees the new committee very much as a support organisation.
“We rely on foreign owned ships and foreign crews to import the goods we need from around the world and, of course, those all important cruise line passengers. We need to make sure that those people, who sometimes spend months away from their families, are looked after well.”
Mr. Tomlin said the project would create a formal international structure, which would eventually involve all ports around the world, and create a database so that seafarers can get to know what to expect in the way of facilities and services when entering a new port.
Following the inaugural meeting kindly hosted by Royal Caribbean Cruises onboard Adventurer of the Seas, ADOMS in their capacity as the Antigua and Barbuda Flag Administration, agreed to coordinate the various groups and representatives involved in the PWC for the first year with elections held on an annual basis.
The Antigua & Barbuda Port Welfare Committee case study and short video is published on the project website https://www.portwelfare.org/case-study-3–antigua—barbuda.html