How the mission to seafarers takes care of our crews

They navigate the ships from port to port, ensuring that all cargo reaches its destination safely: the crews on board our 219 ships, which operate 120 liner services worldwide. Without them our work on land would not be possible - without them, shops and supermarkets would be empty. But who takes care of the crews? An insight into the work of the mission to seafarers.

When the ships arrive in port, things can get very hectic: There are deliveries, crew changes, visitors – and sometimes representatives of missions to seafarers also come up the gangway. The on-board support team in Hamburg, for example, consists of a full-time director and other volunteers. They lend an ear to seafarers when they wish to talk about home or about problems large or small. They bring along newspapers from home to keep crew members informed about what is happening in, for example, the Philippines, India or Russia. Or they have SIM cards with them so that the staff on board can make calls to their wives and children at a reasonable price.

Individual and personal support

Each visit is individual and very personal, with questions such as: “How is the man whose wife was pregnant the last time he visited home?” “Are the problems with the school fees for the children in Manila solved?” “Did everything turn out OK with the broken wrist?” Or the question can be very simple: “Is there anything I can buy for you?”

There is an international charity known as the Mission to Seafarers as well as the Deutsche Seemannsmission e.V. (German Seamen’s Mission), both of which offer pastoral care on board and in clubhouses in ports around the world. In addition to being active in various ports in Germany, the latter is also active worldwide.  

Duckdalben: Like a second home

For many, the Duckdalben International Seamen’s Club in Hamburg is like a second home. There, the crew members will find various amenities for a short break from the daily routine on board – such as free Wi-Fi, leisure and sports facilities, money transfers, money exchange, a small shop and an international team of staff who are available for pastoral care and one-on-one conversations.

The tasks of the Duckdalben staff – affectionately called “Duckies” by many – also include caring for seafarers in hospitals. They accompany seamen throughout their in-patient hospital stays, and provide them with the practical everyday things they might need in an emergency. They are someone to talk to, a stand-in for family and friends.

The seafarers can enjoy Wi-Fi, visiting the club and much more for no charge. But none of this would be possible without financial support. Hapag-Lloyd is one of the organizations that provides the club with regular support – both financial and non-material. For example, our sea apprentices have traditionally visited the club once a year to experience the Seamen’s Mission in an up-close and personal way.

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