Maritime charities address the tragic loss of the Cemfjord and her 8 crew

Image of the sunken Cemfjord, image © RNLI/Wick
[B]The following is a joint statement from global maritime charities The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) and The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) on the loss of the Cemfjordin the Pentland Firth on 2 January 2015.

The cargo ship sank in gale force conditions and 100 mile winds without issuing a distress signal. All 8 seafarers who were on board are missing, presumed dead; 7 men are confirmed to be from Poland and 1 from the Philippines. The bow of the stricken vessel was spotted by passengers and crew of the Northlink Ferry [I]Hrossey[/I] which sailed close to where the ship went down on the day of the incident; they then raised the alarm with the coastguard.

Revd Canon Ken Peters, Director of Justice and Public Affairs, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “This is a devastating shipping tragedy which has profoundly affected the lives of the lost crew’s families. The ship sank quickly in very treacherous conditions and the crew clearly did not have the time to issue a distress signal. There has been an extensive air and sea search and rescue operation undertaken by the Marine and Coastguard Agency but to no avail. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families involved.

The Mission to Seafarers and The Apostleship of the Sea have now been in contact with Brise Hamburg, the shipowners, and are liaising with them on how best to support the families of the lost crew.

Fr Edward Pracz, AoS Gdynia Poland, said: “Most of the families are Polish and we are available to contribute to the support of those in need at this terrible time. Our work with seafarers all over the world gives us the knowledge and skills to work sensitively in this traumatic context in the aftermath of the disaster and over the longer term.”

The Mission to Seafarers Scotland is in touch with the local Scottish seafaring community in Wick, Caithness, many of whom were involved with the search and rescue operation on the night of the disaster. Wick is located 15 miles from where the ship is now lying on the seabed. There will be an open meeting with refreshments for the community and The Mission to Seafarers at Mackays Hotel Wick from 9.30am to 11am followed by a church service for the missing seafarers of the [I]MV Cemfjord[/I], which will be held at St John the Evangelist Scottish Episcopal Church, Moray Street, Wick on Sunday 18 January at 11.30am led by MtS Chaplain Revd Tim Tunley and Revd Wendy Knott. There will also be refreshments available after the service in the Church Hall.

It’s hard to imagine what these families must feel right now without ever having the ability to say goodbye to their loved ones, or know exactly what their last moments were like. RIP shipmates, we no doubt look forward to hearing your story some day.