UK: Increase in Teesport Container Traffic Signals Optimism
Container traffic into Teesport is steadily increasing and figures show it rose 15% just in the last year. An article recently in the Evening Gazette discussed that Port owner PD Ports is keen to build on this momentum with a multi-million pound expansion of Teesport’s container terminal facilities. The move is part of a wider plan – praised by shipping minister Mike Penning – to position Teesport as an international logistics hub that can capitalise on a revival in European markets.
Expansion like this for business purposes can only be positive for the area, hopefully bringing in much needed investment and the creation of new jobs; however we can never forget the human element involved.
For seafarers on board the container ships and ferries, life is busy, often with very little time in port so there is no time to go ashore or to enjoy any of the leisure activities we take for granted. With some working patterns, crewmembers don’t even get to meet up as one group, even at meal times, as while some are working, others may be sleeping.
This is where the support of seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea comes in. Their chaplains and ship visiting volunteers visit the ships and bring news in the seafarers’ own language, top ups for mobile phones or for remote Internet access to contact family and loved ones; and on occasions when time does allow, transport crew members to enjoy a few hours in town away from the ship.
A recent example of this happened when the Captain of one container ship called forward and asked AoS Chaplain Tony McAvoy if he could possibly call at the ship on Sunday morning at 9.00am in order to take some crew members to town on a well earned break. However, overnight the ship’s orders were changed and it came into Teesport at 1.00am on the Sunday morning. Following discharge and re-loading of containers the ship had already left by 7.00am. This was obviously disappointing for the crewmembers, but it made the AoS more determined to assist the crew and the next time the ship came into Teesport, transport to town was provided and the crewmembers had a well earned break away from the ship.
With the increase of traffic into Teesport it may mean that ships will be urged to deal with their cargo even faster, and to move on to make room for the next ship. This will mean even less time for the crews to have any form of break or down time and will also give a narrower window of opportunity for ship visiting teams to even visit seafarers. Whether this will happen remains to be seen however AoS will amend its pro-active ship visiting strategy to cope with these changes as it is vital that someone is there to provide practical and pastoral care to visiting seafarers.
For more information about the work of Apostleship of the Sea you can visit their website at www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk
Source: Apostleship, March 21, 2011