The Master of a containership is reported to have committed suicide aboard his ship during a recent voyage from New York and Tilbury, England.
The Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea sent a port chaplain to visit the Maltese-flagged Santa Bettina upon its arrival in Tilbury on May 21. In a post on its Facebook page, the group said the Santa Bettina was a week into its voyage when the captain apparently took his own life onboard, leaving crew members distraught and traumatized.
Father Colum Kelly went aboard the vessel when it docked to say Mass and offer blessings and support to the crew.
“I spent time listening to the crew and of the stress that they had been feeling during the voyage. It emerged the death took place one week into the voyage. It was the first time the crew had sailed with that captain so they knew very little about him,” said Fr Colum Kelly.
“His body was laid in his sealed cabin for the remainder of the voyage. Particularly distressed was the young seafarer who had discovered the body. It was the first time he had seen a corpse,” he said.
AoS added that the crew requested Mass to be said and for specific areas of the ship to be blessed, including some cabins and the spot where the body was found.
“We did what we were able to do for the crew; talking to them and trying to bring some consolation. It was a terrible time for the seafarers, but at the end of the day there was a sense of joy in the midst of the grief, stress and bewilderment,” Fr Colum Kelly said.