18 Jul


Leith chaplain supports stranded crew

18 Jul, 2019

Captain Gennadi Kukvinof

A stranded ship, whose crew was supported by Sailors' Society port chaplain Pauline Robertson during its month-long detention in Leith port, has finally been ruled fit to leave the UK today (July 24).

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained the MV Alexander Tvardovskiy on 25 June, confirming it had found "several deficiencies" with the Cook Islands-flagged vessel.

The ship's captain, Gennadi Kukvinof, told Pauline during the detention that the owners were fighting paying their salaries. He was later sent home by the company and replaced by another captain.

"There's relief all round now, but it took a month to resolve the problems to the satisfaction of the MCA," said Pauline.

"In the meantime, the stress was building up like a pressure cooker for the crew. It's scary when you're so far away from home and you don't know how long you're going to be there. Their families were asking 'When are you coming home?' and they didn't know what to say. It had a real impact on their mental health."

Pauline visited the nine men and one woman regularly, providing them with food, Wi-Fi access and phone cards.

During the detention, Captain Gennadi said: "Pauline always helps us, every day. She asks what we need and has been so much help to us.

"The crew is not good, really not good at all. Some of them want to go home, some want to stay."

Captain Gennadi Kukvinof of the detained Alexander Tvardovskiy with Sailors’ Society port chaplain Pauline Robertson.

Pauline added: "This situation is not uncommon sadly. We work all over the world supporting seafarers and their families with everything from abandonment to education. The issues seafarers can face have not changed that much in the 200 years that Sailors' Society has been around. We have been a listening ear all that time and will continue to care for this invisible workforce that we all depend on for almost everything we use every day."

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