New wi-fi network for Ipswich seafarers is first of its kind in the UK

Capt Jerry Coleman (Ipswich Harbour Master), Andrew Harston (ABP Director, Short Sea Ports), Rose Ge

Capt Jerry Coleman (Ipswich Harbour Master), Andrew Harston (ABP Director, Short Sea Ports), Rose George, James Cooper (CEO ABP), David Thurston, (Chairman FHPSS) - Credit: Archant

A wi-fi network has been installed at the Port of Ipswich for the provision of seafarers’ well-being - the first of its kind in the UK.

Maritime charity Felixstowe and Haven Ports Seafarers’ Service and Haven Ports Welfare Committee held a ceremony on October 30 on board the Thames sailing barge, Victor, at Ipswich Docks, to celebrate the launch of the network.

David Thurston, chairman of Felixstowe Seafarers’ Centre, said mariners traditionally visited seafarer centres to make calls to their families around the world, but as technology progressed they started using mobile phones, and then the internet.

“Just over three years ago, the chaplains who visit the ships said that because of the geography of the Port of Ipswich and the quick turnarounds, many seafarers found it difficult or even impossible to reach the centre at Ipswich to use the internet.

“This made them feel very isolated and it became apparent that they would benefit from having access to the internet without having to leave their vessel,” Mr Thurston said.

The project is funded by maritime charities, Seafarers UK and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, and the Felixstowe and Haven Ports Seafarers’ Service.

Mr Thurston said discussions were in progress with Associated British Ports to generate future funds.