Saint John Seafarers Mission
New Service for Seafarers
In the past few days an initiative of the Saint John Seafarers mission has begun to make a difference. When the pandemic began to affect the ability of seafarers to contact home and do local shopping Chaplain Eric Phinney of the Saint John Seafarers mission began to dream of an alternative way to bring service to the seafarers that visit the port.
The scheme involves several different components and can be scaled up to eventually include every berth in the Port of Saint John. It begins with providing a good wifi signal to a ship that is alongside. Many ships today do provide Wi-Fi to their crew but it often comes with a cost or is limited in quality and quantity.
Recently the Port of Saint John installed three access points on the lighting towers at the Container Terminal on the west side of the harbour. Other points in the harbor that have free Wi-Fi include the Mission Centre on Tilley Road, the Potash Terminal at Lower Cove and the Oil Terminals in Courtney Bay.
The newly installed Access points at the Container Terminal have an additional feature that give assistance to seafarers. When the seafarer finds the signal that is at the SSID of “sjseafarers” his browser is forwarded to a page on the Saint John Seafarers Website https://sjseafarers.com/?page_id=98 that is set up for visiting seafarers. Upon landing on this page the seafarer is advised of a variety of service that can be accessed virtually. These include virtual shopping at Walmart and other stores. Phone numbers, email and WhatsApp contact information for the Chaplain and Mission manager and a variety of websites of general interest to seafarers.
Within hours of the first Access point going live the chaplain received a phone call from one of the Engineers aboard a container vessel. He had recently discovered that his cell phone was damaged and would not work. For a seafarer who has had his contract extended because of the pandemic, his cell phone was his only link to his family back home. Chaplain Eric Phinney was able to retrieve the cell phone at the foot of the Gangway and find a replacement phone.
Future plans include ensuring that all free Wi-Fi points that are directed at ships will forward the seafarers phone to the Mission web pages so that they can see what is available to them.
Rev. Eric Phinney
Saint John Seafarers Mission.