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Mission to Seafarers International

Piracy, shipwreck, abandonment and separation from loved ones are just a few of the problems merchant seafarers face. Around the world, The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.5 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat.


We work in over 200 ports in 50 countries caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through our global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers we offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.

In over 100 ports our Flying Angel centres provide a ‘home away from home’ for seafarers who may have been at sea for up to two years. Here they can enjoy time away from their ship and use internet and phone facilities to get in touch with loved ones after months away.


In an emergency, the MTS is often the only help on offer. No matter what problem a seafarer is facing, be it injury, abandonment, non-payment of wages or personal difficulties, they know they can turn to the local Mission for help, advice and support. Our chaplains and volunteers offer practical and financial support, advocacy services, family liaison or simply a space to talk in a time of crisis.


The Mission to Seafarers was founded in 1856 and is entirely funded by voluntary donations.

Click Here to go to the International Mission to Seafarers website.

History of Mission to Seafarers

In 1836, John Ashley created the organization that would be known around the world as the Mission to Seafarers. His work was dedicated to the spiritual care of maritime workers with an emphasis on pastoral care. Nearly 200 years later, his legacy lives on. 

The Seattle Seafarers Center is an affiliate of the international organization The Mission to Seafarers. The Center began in the 1980’s and became The Mission to Seafarers-Seattle in the 90’s. Our mission has always been to provide the crews of merchant ships:

  • Hospitality at our facility, including WiFi connection

  • Advocacy for seafarers’ rights

  • SIM cards for international connection to news from home

  • Crisis intervention

In 1994, 15 volunteers began the Seattle ditty bag program packing 300 bags for seafarers that became the signature winter program of our Mission. Last December we delivered 3 times that many bags. Cumulatively, during the years since 1994, the Center has delivered over 20,000 bags to mariners.

In 1999, the first cruise ships docked in Seattle. By 2004, 148 cruise ship dockings occurred at the Port of Seattle carrying about 1000 foreign crew persons per ship. The opportunity to serve cruise ships intensified by 2008, and the Seattle Center began to serve these mariners by driving them to downtown Seattle to shop in return for a modest donation for the roundtrip ride. Over the years the Seattle Center has transported 200,000 crews during the May to October cruise season.

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Rev. John Ashley (1801-1886) founded the Bristol Channel Mission, which would later become the Mission to Seafarers.

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