Maritime charities look to the future at London International Shipping Week


How do we help the seafarer of the future? That’s the question being posed to the shipping industry and maritime charities as they explore the impact of technology on crew well-being at a special event during London International Shipping Week (LISW).

The afternoon of engaging debates will see The Mission to Seafarers, Sailors’ Society, Seafarers UK and Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) draw on their combined 550-plus years’ experience to explore with industry leaders what seafarers of the future will need.

The free conference, sponsored by Inmarsat, includes a keynote speech from Dr Grahaeme Henderson, vice president, Shipping and Maritime, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd on: ‘How shipping can thrive: today, tomorrow and in the future’.

His speech will be followed by four panel debates, looking at everything from how technology can improve health and safety and whether it can replace the personal touch to how other industries tackle issues like fatigue, isolation and long contracts and how charities should prepare for the welfare needs of new generations of men and women at sea.

The Impact of Technology on Crew Well-being will focus particularly on mental health and takes place on from 1.30pm to 5.30pm on Wednesday 11th September at Inmarsat Global on City Road.

The afternoon will be followed by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) Awards and a drinks reception.

COO and Director of Programme at Sailors’ Society, Sandra Welch, said: “This very special event brings everyone together – industry professionals and the four nominated charities of LISW, which have more than five centuries of experience between them. The issues seafarers face and the needs we meet have not changed very much over the years, but as technology develops and shapes the industry, we too must adapt. It will be an interesting afternoon for anyone involved in shipping and its future.”

Nick Harvey, Campaigns Manager at Seafarers UK, said: “Is the jury still out on whether or not improved connectivity is a good or bad thing for seafarers working thousands of miles away from home? The Seafarers UK charity welcomes the opportunity this conference provides to shed light on a subject that sadly is still side-stepped by some ship owners and operators.”

Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General at The Mission to Seafarers, said: “Technology can bring exciting opportunities for the maritime industry and especially seafarers, who may be away from their loved ones for long periods of time. This session is a fantastic opportunity to bring together people from across the shipping industry to discuss the future role of technology in the industry.”

Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) National Director Martin Foley said: “In spite of the welcome changes and advances in technology, our experience shows that having a ‘friend in port’ is still vitally important for seafarers. Face-to-face contact is unique and irreplaceable, and our commitment to routine visiting can help alleviate loneliness and mental health problems in seafarers.”