Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Stella Maris responded to the pastoral needs of a bulk carrier crew after their captain died of a heart attack on board. The Star Nina had been at anchorage near Immingham Port since October 23 when the master suffered a heart attack on board on November 15. He was immediately evacuated from the ship but was pronounced dead by shore paramedics.
When the vessel berthed in port on November 26, AoS port chaplains in Immingham responded to the crew’s request for support.
“We were waiting for them to come in to Immingham so we could help. It was a very sad and difficult time for them. They had been at anchorage for over a month, plus their voyage from Brazil meant they had been at sea for a month and a half,” said Fr Colum Kelly, AoS Immingham Port Chaplain.
“Not only did we pray for the deceased captain but also his family and indeed the crew who was deeply traumatised by this sad event. They were so thankful that we could organise Mass for them,” he added.
Fr Colum said a particularly poignant part of his conversation with the crew was when he asked the acting captain why they had continued to be kept at anchorage for 11 days after the captain’s death.
“The acting captain said that the crew were told this was due to ‘berth congestion and priority cargo’.
“Doesn’t that say something awful about the treatment of seafarers even in the midst of tragedy? Their need was determined by what they were carrying in the ship’s hold,” said Fr Colum.
This year alone, AoS provided bereavement support for the crew in eight cases involving deaths at sea in ports including Tilbury, Dublin, Durban and Tema. AoS also provides follow up visits and care to bereaved crew through its global network of over 1,000 chaplains and ship visitors in more than 300 ports.