Tragic life afloat revealed

Forgotten sailors who – suffering from depression over appalling job contracts are taking their own lives by jumping overboard – it has been revealed.

Merchant seamen – once held in high regard – are now among the forgotten lost souls of the workplace, the Rev Andrew Wright said. He is determined to raise their profile and has been working alongside the MCA to that end.

The chaplain and director of operations at the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, and honorary chaplain to the Isle of Wight for The Mission to Seafarers, Rev Andrew Wright takes up a new post as Secretary General in February 2013.
He said: ‘I am deeply honoured to have been invited to take up the post of Secretary General at The Mission to Seafarers. I am very conscious of the rich heritage of the Mission and of the dynamic way in which its work has evolved in the 21st century. I will ensure that the Mission sustains its charitable purpose in a way which is faithful to its roots but which continues to show that openness to creativity and development which has been integral to success over so many years, and which has won the admiration of so many, most especially those seafarers to whom the Mission means so much.
‘Seafaring remains a very dangerous and exposed occupation. It brings long, long periods of absence from family. Welfare issues can too often be hidden by inaccessibility and the vastness of the seas. Crews once held so high in public esteem and imagination are now largely forgotten. I am determined to raise the profile of the Mission’s vital work, and to champion the welfare of the men and women that crew the merchant fleet as my driving priority.
‘I have worked in close collaboration with some of the key maritime agencies in the UK including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department of Transport and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, which will provide the essential context to my work in 2013 and beyond. I have travelled internationally, particularly in Canada and South America and have witnessed the sometimes brutal treatment of seafarers. My involvement with the International Christian Maritime Association has given me a real understanding of global maritime welfare issues.
‘My visit to the Falkland Islands in 2010 exposed the reality for crews working at sea without basic employment contracts, and that indirectly caused loss of life. Harrowing details emerged of seamen jumping overboard, as they were unable to cope under the most extreme and deplorable conditions. I believe in ‘Christianity with its sleeves rolled up’ and an action-based approach; I will aim for a measureable improvement in outcomes for those who face a dangerous, frightening and lonely life at sea.
‘I am pleased to be returning to a ministry which is distinctively Anglican, yet also brings together all faiths, and is therefore ‘ecumenical’ in its outlook and partnerships. I am looking forward to working with the dedicated Mission family of supporters and volunteers around the world, as well as with the shipping industry in all its many forms.’
The appointment of Andrew Wright follows the sudden death of the former Secretary General, The Revd Tom Heffer, aged 43, earlier in the year.
The Revd Andrew Wright was born in Worcestershire in 1958. He studied theology at The University of St Andrews before fulfilling ordination training at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He was ordained at Liverpool Cathedral in 1984 and then worked in urban areas of significant deprivation in Liverpool, Carlisle and Wigan. He also worked as chaplain, head of religious studies and housemaster for 16 years at St Edward’s School in Oxford. He took up the post of Mission chaplain and director of operations with the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen in 2007. He is married to Julia with whom he has four grown up children, and lives in the Isle of Wight. His interests include sailing, writing, walking and cycling.