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Support given after fatal Felixstowe ship explosion

A Catholic port chaplain and parish priest in Felixstowe have been able to lend support to the crew of a ship birthed in the port after an explosion killed one seafarer and injured another.

St Felix parish priest Fr John Barnes and Sr Marian Davey, port chaplain with Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) were both able to support the crew following the incident.

Sr Marian spoke about her admiration for the faith and dignity of the crew of the Manhattan Bridge which was berthed at Felixstowe port on January 19 when the incident occurred, killing a crew member and injuring the second engineer.

“They’re a crew who have a strong bond of relationship and respect for each other,” said Sr Marian.

“Strong leadership on board was very evident from the captain and his officers – all the crew were trying to help each other to come to terms with all that’s happened,” she added.

Sr Marian was informed of the incident in the early hours of the morning by the Harbour Master and Port Health and Safety Manager. On hearing the news, she travelled immediately from her short break in Manchester to offer assistance to the Filipino crew.

“They wanted to make sure that the remaining crew got as much support as possible,” said Sr Marian, who visited the ship several times over the weekend.

“The crew had to cope with a very lengthy process of investigation procedures by both the police and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch throughout the 48 hours the ship was berthed, so I had to snatch slots of time in between to give both one-to-one and collective moments of support.

“The faith and dignity of the crew was inspirational. I provided moments where they could openly express their grief and shock through tears and words and prayer and silence,” she said.

Sr Marian also arranged a Mass on board, celebrated by Fr John Barnes. It was a great help to the crew who were able to attend. This was followed by a blessing of various parts of the ship, including the cabin of the deceased seafarer.

"The captain was extremely grateful for the support offered by AoS and to Fr John for celebrating Mass,” said Sr Marian.

She added, “I am now focusing the energies of the AoS chaplaincy team on supporting the injured seafarer who is the Burns Unit at Chelmsford Hospital. He is making good progress and we will continue visiting and supporting him until his repatriation.”

Sr Marian is still in contact with the Manhattan Bridge’s crew members on social media. The ship is now in Hamburg.

Pictured above is Felixstowe port chaplain Sr Marina Davey.