Seamen’s Church advocate visits Gulf of Aden’s ‘Pirate Alley’

The following is an announcement from the Seamen’s Church Institute:
(NEW YORK) — On Sunday, August 2, Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Center for Seafarers’ Rights, will embark on an 8-day journey others only dream about. The dream, however, is an angst-ridden nightmare for international seafarers. Stevenson will be a guest aboard the Maersk Idaho traveling from Cairo to Dubai through “Pirate Alley.â€
The waters off the coast of Somalia drew media attention recently when, in April, a container ship owned by United States-based Maersk Line Limited was seized. The ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage by pirates and held at gunpoint for 5 days. The attack was one of 80 in the area since the beginning of 2009.

Stevenson embarks on this journey for professional reasons. He wants to learn from the experiences of mariners who routinely sail through pirate-infested waters. The Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, the world’s only full-time, free legal aid program for merchant mariners, says that he also hopes to draw attention to the professional seafarers themselves and their work, which is vital to the world’s prosperity.

To collect data and give exposure to his expedition, Stevenson will make careful observations and share many of them in real-time using Twitter. (To keep an eye on Stevenson’s journey, follow dbs5218.)

Observations will contribute to Stevenson’s understanding of merchant mariners’ perspectives and needs and add to a clinical study of piracy’s effects on merchant mariners and their families. This month SCI announced a multi-year study in conjunction with the Disaster Psychiatry Outreach at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. The first of its kind in the maritime industry, the study explores the clinical assessment and treatment of piracy attack survivors.

“SCI has a commitment to seafarers’ well-being,†says Stevenson. “We want to make sure that we understand what is happening to them so that we can offer them every support they need.â€

Stevenson departs on Friday for Port Said from which he will venture into the uncertain open seas. When asked whether he was afraid, Stevenson with poise responded, “I have great confidence in Maersk Idaho’s security arrangements and in the competence of its crew.â€

By Professional Mariner Staff