by the Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director
This month, SCI inaugurates a campaign to celebrate the human factor in maritime commerce, creating print materials and online resources at http://seamenschurch.org/iam. Each component in this series features a photo of a mariner introducing himself with the phrase “I am…” The dashboard of items on the website gives a glimpse into another world—a world that sometimes lies hidden from public awareness.
Mariners, not propellers, are the real force behind maritime commerce. Their skill, stamina, and training move the world’s cargo. We, as chaplains, have the privilege of sharing in their lives when invited aboard a vessel; however, not everyone gets to see what we see – the amazing spirit, the teamwork, and the camaraderie that characterizes the enviable American workforce.
Two weeks ago, I spent an incredible period engaged with Gulf of Mexico coastal workers and Lower Mississippi River mariners in Louisiana. I visited colleagues at Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), Hornbeck Offshore, Quality Shipyards, and Tidewater. Every mariner I met showed deep passion for his work and a dedication to safety. During the second part of the week, I connected with management and river mariners at AEP River Operations in Convent, LA and Ingram Barge Company in Reserve, LA. My strongest impressions came from extended time with mariners who crew towboats on round-the-clock 12-hour shifts. From veteran captains to new deck hands, each mariner showed incredible technical skill and pride in his or her work.
While I was in Louisiana, I witnessed what I wish everyone else had the chance to see, too: proud faces, intense focus on the job, and concern for fellow human beings. SCI often calls mariners the invisible workforce, but they do not have to remain anonymous … if we can help it.
I invite you to share the stories of mariners. Using SCI’s print and online resources, tell someone about the seafarer who “makes the mall interesting” or the mariner who “lights up your home.” With the recent edition of The Lookout, SCI distributed large posters featuring one of these individuals. Readers will find more information at http://seamenschurch.org/iam along with other faces, information about SCI, and virtual tours of maritime industry workplaces. You can help us spread the word online, too, by sharing our website and Facebook links with your friends.