Below we’ve shared just a few ways SCI serves the world’s maritime workforce. There are plenty of others. If you’d like to see more and perhaps discover how you can help mariners too, we would love to show you.
1. Shore Leave
Many seafarers arriving in United States ports do not have visas that permit them to leave the ship on which they work, thus severely limiting their access to services available on land. As a result, things that most of us take for granted—email, phone calls, banking—have to be postponed until the next port of call in a different country, which could take weeks or months to reach. Because SCI port chaplains board each vessel as it comes into berth—bringing with them phones, Wi-Fi hotspots, and money transfer forms—seafarers can connect with family and friends at home following a long transoceanic journey.
What about mariners who do have visas for the United States? Well, seafarers have to get from their vessel to the terminal gate. Sounds simple enough, but because of strict regulations about who can and cannot operate ground transportation inside ports, it isn’t. Sometimes, SCI offers the only possible option of in-terminal transportation for seafarers wishing to stretch their legs, visit our seafarers’ center or go shopping. Without us, some of them might never get to do these things.
2. Access to Training
If every inland waterways maritime transportation company had to build and staff its own training center, our nation’s coasts and rivers would look quite different from how they do today. A lot of time and money goes into acquiring the sophisticated staff and up-to-date equipment required to run a training facility. We should know! SCI operates two training centers for professional mariners, working with transportation companies to strengthen their employees’ skills for safety on the water and helping mariners meet their own professional responsibilities.
Because SCI operates as a not-for-profit institution—and therefore able to direct its resources toward benefiting the safety of mariners and communities everywhere—we can offer practical and relevant training at affordable prices at our cutting-edge Center for Maritime Education campuses in Paducah, KY and Houston, TX. The Center’s expert instructors offer more than 150 years of combined experience on all matters relating to maritime work, and our facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment to help mariners train for whatever might come their way.
3. Abandoned Ships
This really happens. Seafarers can find themselves diligently working one minute and the next stranded aboard a ship without pay, food, water, or the means to go home for weeks or even months. Scenarios under which unscrupulous owners abandon ships vary, but no matter the circumstances the crew suffers without daily necessities or pay. Helping secure the welfare of mariners across the globe, SCI provides the world’s only free legal advocacy service for seafarers, who might otherwise be left “high and dry” without any help to recover lost wages or get home to their families.
4. Wooly Gifts from Knitters
Mariners would probably not freeze without the hats and scarves made each year by SCI volunteers, but they might be seriously heartbroken. You see, mariners the world over have come to view the knitted gifts received at Christmastime as a sign of appreciation for their hard work. The hand-knit items SCI distributes give mariners a warm embrace at a stressful time when so many find themselves a great distance from home.
5. Emotional and Spiritual Support for Mariners
In the modern work world, a lot of companies recognize the benefit of emotional support and spiritual care for their employees. That’s why companies partner with SCI to allow chaplains to visit mariners working on the water. Respecting the values of individuals from all walks of life, SCI’s chaplains, both inland and in port, offer mariners a source of comfort and care, on ordinary days as well as in times of crisis. Spending months at a time away from their families, working through holidays, and facing dangerous weather, mariners deal with a unique set of challenges to which few land-dwellers can relate. SCI chaplains provide a sympathetic ear and spiritual refreshment, giving hardworking men and women a compassionate—one might say heaven-sent—resource.
And the List Goes On
For over 180 years, SCI has supported millions of men and women in maritime commerce, helping to make the world a better place for them to work. Reasons like the ones outlined here have had an enormous impact on real people. So, what does the future look like for mariners? With your help, it looks bright.
You can help SCI shape a promising tomorrow for mariners with a financial contribution to a once-in-a-generation appeal that ensures the Institute can meet their needs for years to come.