Internet boost for seafarers

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SEAFARERS have been given a boost to help them communicate with their loved ones.

Mobile network 3 will provide seafarers visiting Hartlepool port with free mobile internet access so they can stay in touch with their family and friends thousands of miles away.

The initiative, part of a national scheme being run in collaboration with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, aims to connect international seafarers with their families using Facebook, Skype, Twitter, email and other internet communications tools.

Three UK has provided 32 mobile wiFi hotspots to the national charity, which aims to promote welfare services to seafarers, allowing each to make 1,500 10 minute Skype calls a month or send around 75,000 emails.

Merchant Navy Welfare Board’s port welfare manager, Carolyn Lewis, said: “Working at sea can be very dangerous and isolating.

“Many contracts will last a minimum of six months and seafarers are expected to work long hours, seven days a week.

“ The lack of communication between seafarers and their families can add to the stress of working at sea.

“Many seafarers visiting UK ports have smartphones but no connectivity while at sea and when on land, international roaming can be very expensive.

“With this initiative, ship welfare visitors are able to help seafarers get connected and keep in touch with their families and friends even if they’re only in port for a few hours.”

Three’s director of corporate affairs, Hugh Davies said: “We have invested heavily in our network so that customers receive the best possible data experience.

“This means that when customers connect their smartphone, tablet or laptop, they enjoy effortless streaming, clear internet calls and fast browsing.

“For seafarers, a connection to one of our portable MiFi devices means it’s free and easy for them to stay in contact with loved ones.”