Princess Anne has spoken of the increasing challenges facing seafarers during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a virtual service to mark Sea Sunday, the Princess Royal said: “Over these last few coronavirus-dominated months, I have been very aware of the vital role that seafarers have played in sustaining our supply lines, including of food and medical supplies.”
She said that many seafarers were working in spite of physical danger, long contracts and isolation.
“Seafarers’ work is always challenging,” she said.
“The additional difficulties during these last few months have been very significant. Problems around transit arrangements have made it much harder for seafarers to leave and join ships at the start and end of contracts.
“In ports, very limited access to the usual shore-based facilities has caused hardship and many have had shore leave disallowed.
“These things have combined with worry about family back home to create acute anxiety, stress and hardship.”
She went on to say she was very conscious of the challenges that the Mission to Seafarers itself has faced in sustaining its traditional port work as a result of the pandemic.
“This will have been very frustrating for many of you,” she said.
Sea Sunday is the initiative of the Mission to Seafarers to celebrate the men and women who man merchant ships around the world, often at great personal sacrifice.
The Mission has continued to support crews throughout the pandemic with visits and supply drop-offs at ship gangways, and by sending care packages.
Princess Anne paid tribute to the Mission to Seafarers for adapting to the challenges “without compromising the Christian values and purposes which have guided it throughout its long history”.
The Rev Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of the Mission to Seafarers, said: “This Sea Sunday is special. We are enabling all seafarers, and those connected to the community, to come together as an extended Mission to Seafarers’ family.
“From London to Lagos and Manila to Melbourne, we believe there is power when we come together as a global community. We are united in gratitude, especially in recognition of the heroic work of seafarers, and in hope for the future.
“Throughout this challenging time, our chaplains and port centres across the world have been adapting their usual activities to safely meet the needs of seafarers. Connecting this Sea Sunday to everyone around the globe provides a great opportunity to thank so many for their dedicated service alongside seafarers.”
He added: “Together we can show these men and women that we appreciate them and recognise the sacrifices they are making during this global crisis.”