HRH The Princess Royal thanked seafarers and port workers for their perseverance during the pandemic
HRH The Princess Royal visited the Port of Southampton on Wednesday 16th February to thank seafarers for their hard work and perseverance during the pandemic. The event, jointly hosted by the Mission to Seafarers, Associated British Ports and DP World, highlighted the essential role of port communities during the years of the pandemic and beyond.
As President of the Mission to Seafarers, The Princess Royal was welcomed to a special event in honour of all international seafarers at one of the UK’s busiest deep-water ports, which has an important role supporting national and global supply chains. The port hosts high numbers of hardworking seafarers from around the world and is just one of the many locations of the Mission’s port welfare operations.
The event was an opportunity for seafarers to be recognised for the hardships of the past two years, and the challenges seafarers have endured during this time, and continue to experience.
As part of the visit, HRH boarded a ro-ro vessel, the MV Tortugas, to meet seafarers and heard personal stories from the crew about experiences during the pandemic. HRH was also accompanied by Rev John Attenborough, the Mission’s Southampton port chaplain, who shared the work done by the Mission on the frontline during COVID-19 and the importance of the international support networks around the world, providing care and assistance 24/7.
At a reception in the Horizon Cruise Terminal, HRH was able to thank the local Mission Committee whose dedicated efforts over many years have raised important funds to support the Southampton operation. Present were also local dignitaries; the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the Mayor of Southampton, along with stevedores and other port workers.
Following the ship visit, HRH gave a speech about the unwavering commitment of the port teams and the essential work of seafarers who have “sustained trade at a moment of global crisis” and “shown tremendous heroism”. She unveiled a ceremonial plaque as a thank you to seafarers, serving as a permanent reminder of their dedication and resilience and concluded that the Mission’s teams “have responded with courage, creativity, and compassion and in the very best traditions of the charity. Your resulting efforts have been so vital and transformational for seafarers.” By meeting and personally thanking the extensive Southampton Mission team, HRH symbolically paid tribute to all of Mission’s global network from around the world.
Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “We would like to extend our gratitude to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal for her unwavering support of our work here at the Mission. Her personal thanks to seafarers, following some of the toughest years ever experienced by the industry in recent times, underlines the importance she places on the role of seafarers around the world and the support network that is required. Our people have worked extremely hard to maintain services during these radically different times and the Southampton team is just one example of all those working around the world to support seafarers.
“Working with ABP and DP World highlights the value of industry partnerships and collaboration for common goals. As we continue to develop new services across the globe, in response to the needs of seafarers and their families, it’s essential that we work together with the leading figures of the industry to build a stronger and more structured support network.”
At Europe’s leading cruise turnaround port, HRH heard about the successful restart of the cruise industry and visited the new Horizon Cruise Terminal, dubbed the ‘UK’s greenest cruise terminal’, a £55m investment by ABP with support from the UK government’s Getting Building Fund, facilitated by the Solent LEP. Horizon will be home to the UK’s first shore power facility for cruise ships when the facility is commissioned this spring, ensuring zero emissions at berth.
ABP Southampton Director, Alastair Welch, added: “It was a real honour to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to the Port of Southampton today. We are proud to be able to share what a fantastic port community we have, which has handled the challenges of the past two years positively and pragmatically. There is much to celebrate about our city, and the port as a vital hub in local, national and global supply chains, and we are very grateful to The Princess Royal for spending time with us.”
HRH also visited DP World for insight into the UK’s second largest container port and helped to operate a crane by one of its berths.
Nick Loader, UK Chief Operating Officer at DP World, commented: “Everyone at DP World was delighted to welcome the Princess Royal to Southampton’s container terminal, where she was able to see for herself our new and environmentally friendly straddle carriers which form part of the £40m we have invested here over the last 12 months. As this major investment shows, we believe in the UK market and have the ambition and resources to boost growth, support businesses, create jobs and improve living standards.”
The Mission to Seafarers continues to support seafarers in over 200 ports around the world, and provides an unwavering commitment to international key workers.