Sailor’s Society launches crisis response network after bodies discovery

Southampton-based Sailors’ Society is launching a crisis response network to help victims of trauma at sea in Asia after reports of the discovery of the decapitated bodies of two Vietnam seafarers on Basilan island in the Philippines last week.

The two seafarers, Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai, were among six Vietnamese sailors abducted by Abu Sayyaf pirates last November. A third escaped and was successfully rescued by Philippine soldiers. Sailors’ Society CEO Stuart Rivers (pictured) said: “This is devastating news and our thoughts are with the victims’ families and friends.”

The charity, which supports seafarers around the world, has trained all 20 of its chaplains across Asia in crisis response and is now offering a 24-hour support service to victims of piracy, kidnapping and natural disasters. The network is being launched in the same month that the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released statistics showing that kidnapping at sea trebled in 2016, with pirates kidnapping 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents last year.

Mr Rivers added: ““By coming alongside these survivors and their families, we can work with other agencies to help them come to terms with what has happened, give them financial, practical and psychological support to help them pick up the pieces of their lives.”

Sailors’ Society works internationally to provide practical, emotional and spiritual welfare support to the world’s 1.6m seafarers, regardless of background or faith. Sailors’ Society chaplains and ship visitors have a presence in 91 global ports, with wider projects and services covering 27 countries.