By Richards Adeniyi
The Master of a container ship committed suicide on a voyage from New York to Tilbury in the UK.
The Apostleship of the Sea said the containership, Santa Bettina, was a week into its voyage when the master apparently took his own life on board, leaving its crew members distraught and traumatised.
AoS port chaplain Fr Colum Kelly along with two chaplains from other seafarer charities went onboard the vessel when it arrived in Tilbury on 21 May to provide support to the crew.
“All three of us spent time listening to the crew and of the stress that they had been feeling during the voyage. It emerged the death took place one week into the voyage. It was the first time the crew had sailed with that captain so they knew very little about him,” said Fr Colum.
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“His body was laid in his sealed cabin for the remainder of the voyage. Particularly distressed was the young seafarer who had discovered the body. It was the first time he had seen a corpse.”
A Mass was said at the request of the crew. A new Polish Master, who has previously worked with the crew and was well liked, has now joined the vessel.
Last week suicide was highlighted as the top cause of deaths among seafarers accounting for 15% of all fatalities according the UK P&I Club.