Port chaplain shocked at ship sinking

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An Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain has spoken of meeting the crew of the cargo ship that sank in the North Sea on Wednesday, leaving five seafarers dead and six missing.

The Baltic Ace sank off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands after colliding with a containership. The coastguard say there is little chance of the six seafarers still being alive in the freezing waters.

Paul Atkinson, chaplain to the ports of Tyne and Blyth, heard the news when he was onboard the sister ship, The Nordic, in Tyne Dock.

“The crew were shocked that the Baltic Ace had sank. The boson was under the impression that the ship had sunk closer to the shore and that all the crew had got off and got into lifeboats.

“I’ve been onboard the ship about a dozen times. It’s been visiting the Tyne for a couple of years. On my last visit I did what I usually do, such as asking the crew if they wanted to visit the seafarers’ centre, go shopping in South Shields, or if they needed SIM cards.

He added that many of the crew were from the Philippines. “It’s a tragedy. And it highlights that, despite all the modern technology on ships, being a seafarer is still a very dangerous job.”

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