Port chaplaincy is among the least-known forms of spiritual care, yet it ministers to thousands of seafarers around the world each year, the vast majority of whom hail from China, the Philippines, and other communities outside the United States. Port chaplains work within denominational structures, for non-profit organizations, and even on their own. Most focus on providing a “ministry of presence” by simply talking with mariners in the short time they are in port before departing on the next leg of a voyage. Other activities include facilitating calls home through SIM cards or by VoIP services like Skype; sending money back to family and friends; transportation to resupply and shop; and more. If you’ve got more resources you think we should include on this sector, let us know at

Apostleship of the Sea

The Apostleship of the Sea is a Catholic charity supporting seafarers worldwideWe provide practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race. Our port chaplains and volunteer ship visitors welcome seafarers, offer welfare services and advice, practical help, care and friendship. The Apostleship of the Sea is part of an international network known to the maritime world as Stella Maris, working in 318 ports with 217 port chaplains around the world. To view where AoS operates globally go to this link. 

90% of world trade is transported by ship. However the life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones and often working in harsh conditions.

International Christian Maritime Association

The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA)is a free association of Christian not-for-profit organisations working for the welfare of seafarers around the world. Founded in 1969, ICMA currently represents more than 450 seafarers’ centres and 900 chaplains in approximately 125 countries. ICMA is registered as a Charity in England and Wales (charity number 1176633).

History of ICMA Documentary from MARE Training on Vimeo.

Mission to Seafarers

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 seafarers’ centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.

North American Maritime Ministry Association

NAMMA is an ecumenical, Christian association of individuals and affiliated organizations involved in maritime ministry throughout North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Founded in 1932 as the National Group of Seamen’s Agencies, it was renamed NAMMA in 1991. Its mission is to provide a framework to support and assist port chaplains and others in their ministry to the spiritual, moral, human rights, and physical concerns of mariners and all others in the maritime community. NAMMA helps equip port chaplains with the resources needed to carry on their ministry. It acts as a consultant and coordinator for services and training, as well as providing standards for these services.

NAMMA includes many ministries from a wide variety of denominations, as well as the maritime ministries of North America.  NAMMA’s affiliated agencies include 55 maritime ministry agencies and approximately 100 Member chaplains. NAMMA serves as the North American region of the International Christian Maritime Association.


Sailors' Society

Sailors’ Society is an international Christian charity working in ports across the world. Our chaplains help seafarers and their families, from all faiths and none, with welfare and practical support. We visit ships in ports and talk with seafarers away from home for up to a year at a time; we help them get in touch with much missed loved ones and access medical treatment; we liaise with frightened families when seafarers are kidnapped by terrorists or imprisoned, mostly through no fault of their own; and we build homes and schools and provide grants to bring hope and security to seafaring communities.

This video was produced as part of a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and explores the religious / spiritual lives of international seafarers.