[The Sea] The Missions to Seaman chaplain in Dunkerque, the Revd Tony Rimmer, recently appealed successfully to the President of France, Jacques Chirac, over the jailing of an Indian ship's master.
The Erika oil tanker, which broke in two shortly before Christmas, caused serious pollution along the coasts of Northern France. But it seems that the cause of the disaster was related to the age and condition of the ship - something for which the captain could not be held responsible.
"The decision to jail Captain Mathur does not seem justified," said the Revd Tony Rimmer in his protest to President Chirac, "the more so since neither the ship owner nor the charterer will be examining the inside of a prison this festive season."
The Erika had been denied entry to the French port of St Nazaire during a storm. When the tanker began to break up, all 26 of the Indian crew were taken off by helicopter without injury.
"Captain Krun Mathur sailed [the Erika] into a position which allowed the search and rescue services to intervene in the best safety conditions to save the crew," said the Missions to Seamen chaplain. "I welcome the freeing of Captain Mathur. This really should not happen again.... Al the mariners who read of this case will realise the master used his professional skills to save the lives of the crew and himself."
The Missions to Seamen will change its name on 4th April at a special service in Westminster Abbey in London. After 144 years of ministry, it will continue to work under the name of The Mission to Seafarers. According to the secretary general, Canon Glyn Jones, the Christian ideals behind the society, represented by a new flying angel logo, will remain the same.