The area known as Cardiff Docks and Tiger Bay has changed much over many decades, and its seafaring life can be easily overlooked, even as you sit in one of the cafes or restuarants of Mermaid Quay and look across the water.
Although the docks are less active now than they were in days gone by, there is still a life at sea out there, and there are visitors to the city by sea who often are invisible to us. One way in which the Church continues a ministry to seafarers is through the Mission to Seafarers.
Near to the original site of the Norwegian Church, once stood The Mission to Seafarers Church, now long gone. However, across the bridge and at the other end of Porth Teigr (the road straddled by the new BBC Roath Lock studios which sits like an oriental Lego construction) is the entrance way to Cardiff Port (now part of Associated British Ports) and it was here that the Mission to Seafarers re-emerged.
The Flying Angel was a small hut like structure of no architectural significance or beauty, but even this experienced its own demise just a few years ago. Even though there is no Mission to Seafarer’s Centre, the work continues.
There is a full time South Wales Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers, and whose work stretches from Newport, Cardiff and Barry in the east to Port Talbot and Milford Haven in the west, and who is supported by volunteers and honorary chaplains, all of whom are the priests of the parishes in which each port stands.
The parish priest at St Mary's is an honorary chaplain to both the Mission to Seafarers and the Port of Cardiff.
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.
They work in over 200 ports in 50 countries caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through their global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers they offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in seafarers' centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.
It was actually on the edge of the Bristol Channel in 1836, that the Rev’d John Ashley established the Bristol Channel Mission as a result of being struck by the loneliness and spiritual needs of the merchant seafarers. A number of people followed his example and in 1856 it was decided to establish a single organisation.
The Mission to Seamen – as it was known – was made a missionary society of the Anglican Communion and its work grew in line with the rapidly expanding British maritime empire.
The Mission to Seafarers has become one of the largest port-based welfare operators in the world, providing a service in around 200 ports, 365 days a year, across 50 countries, providing help and support to the 1.5 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat
A Prayer for Seafarers
O Eternal Lord God,
who alone spreads out the heavens
and rules the raging of the seas,
receive into your protection all those
who go down to the sea in ships
and occupy their business on the great waters. Preserve them both in body and soul,
prosper their labours with good success,
in all times of danger, be their defence,
and bring them to the haven
where they would be,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Families
we pray for the families of seafarers,
often separated for long periods
from their fathers, husbands, mothers and wives. Protect those families and help them
stay close together until they are reunited.
Bless the children of seafarers at school
and help them in their learning. Amen.
A Prayer for the work of
The Mission to Seafarers
we pray for the work of The Mission to Seafarers and their kindred organisations,
their Chaplains and Ships’ Visitors
around the world.
Help them as they help seafarers
and may the Mission always provide
the practical and spiritual support
that seafarers need. Amen.
For more information about the organisations which work to support seafarers please visit their websites by clicking on the logos below.
We are also pleased to support the Merchant Navy Association which holds two Memorial Services at the Merchant Seafarers' Memorial in Cardiff Bay in May and November each year.
The November service takes place on the steps of the Senedd building on the day before Remembrance Sunday. Members of the Association also attend the Sea Sunday Celebrations in July each year
You can find out more about the Association at their website
Members of the Merchant Navy Association attending the Sea Sunday Celebrations in Cardiff Bay in July 2016