On Stephania’s fourth birthday, her father, Xavier, and his crewmates had already been detained in Nigeria for three months, accused of oil theft and faking a piracy attack.

It would take seven more months before Stephania could have her birthday celebrations with her father by her side. All 26 crew members on the MT Heroic Idun were separated from their families due to a political dispute far from home, leaving their loved ones confused, lonely, and frightened.

‘Stephania insisted she wouldn't celebrate her birthday until her dad returned home. At four years old, she couldn't understand why he wasn't home sooner to be with her’ - Sailors' Society.

The crew came from Poland, The Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. They'd all had their phones confiscated and couldn’t disembark from their vessel. They were isolated and traumatised too. Sailors' Society's Crisis Response Team, partly funded by The Seafarers’ Charity, were able to establish and maintain contact with the crew over their 10-month ordeal, until the dispute was settled, and they were able to return home. Throughout that time, and since, the dedicated crisis team has provided unwavering support. They also provided reassurance and support to the families.

'They really appreciated our help throughout the 10-month period and are looking forward to our ongoing support when they get home to their families.' - Sailors’ Society

In 2022, The Seafarers’ Charity awarded a grant of £106,500 to Sailors’ Society to facilitate their Crisis Response Network: a free global service run by trained crisis responders who provide 24/7 care and support to seafarers and their families following critical incidents like piracy, abandonment, imprisonment, and natural disasters.

Photo courtesy of Sailors' Society

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