SCI Publishes 2009 Shore Leave Survey Results

Sep 2, 2009

Newly published results from the Seamen's Church Institute's (SCI) 2009 Shore Leave Survey paint a picture of some of the obstacles to shore leave that merchant mariners encounter in United States' ports.

Newly published results from the Seamen's Church Institute's (SCI) 2009 Shore Leave Survey paint a picture of some of the obstacles to shore leave that merchant mariners encounter in United States' ports.

During the week of May 17 - 23, SCI asked seafarers' centers in United States ports to gather data on shore leave restrictions. SCI's compilation of observations from 20 ports provides vital data to help form the Institute's strategy to improve law and practices affecting mariners.

"We asked port chaplains who work with seafarers to tell us what they saw during the week," says Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI's Center for Seafarers' Rights. The recorded results reveal what kind of current obstacles seafarers face when seeking leave on US shores and tell SCI the type of support it needs to supply to seafarers. SCI will share these survey results in conferences, seminars, and published reports.

This year, leading reasons for denial of access included a lack of a US visa and restrictions imposed by ships' management due to concerns related to H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu).
Due to newly implemented nationwide security requirements, foreign seafarers seeking shore leave must be accompanied through terminals by an escort holding a Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC). According to the report, seafarers depend heavily on chaplains at seafarers' centers to escort them through terminals. The availability of these escorts, the vital link between a ship and the gate of a terminal, varies widely and oftentimes hinges on limited resources.

The report concludes that recently implemented security protocols in the United States play a part in delays and limitations on seafarers' shore leave. Providing easier access to information for seafarers regarding these regulations and making available more ship-to-terminal-gate escort services could improve the chances for a seafarer to access shore leave.

According to the report, “All stakeholders should continue to work together to maximize access and minimize impact on seafarers' already limited shore leave opportunities.”

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