Captain Jerry Drewitt, Harbour Master, Tees & Hartlepool says:
"I have been asked to explain to you the Port Levy system which helps fund seafarers welfare activities on the Tees. I stress the word ‘helps’ because the main cost of providing seafarers’ welfare facilities and services is borne by the welfare providers who themselves depend greatly on their own fund raising activities. I would also like to stress that our scheme may not be for everyone – indeed, you might even have a better system. I hope you do! What I can say is that our levy has worked for over 40 years and it has helped seafarers through some difficult times.
So, here at Teesport we provide visiting crews of over 4,000 ships with a complete package of welfare support throughout the year. This includes access to two seafarers’ centres; one either side of the river; free port transportation and a comprehensive programme of ship welfare visiting by our Port Chaplains & their Volunteers. These services are provided by a small number of ‘bone fide’ voluntary organisations who work collaboratively as members of the local Port Welfare Committee.
How do we raise the funds to support seafarers’ welfare I hear you say? Well, from the start, it was decided that the most effective way was to collect a nominal contribution from each ship and separately itemise it in the Ship’s Dues Accounts, thus being ultimately payable by the ship-owner. The level of contribution is decided by the trustees of the scheme in consultation with the Port Authority – for historical reasons this scheme belongs to the Tees River Users Association but could easily be a Seafarers Welfare Board. The Port Authority acts as agent to the trustees and collects the Welfare Contributions charged out with the ship’s dues. The scheme is transparent and is published in the relevant port tariffs, available to all.
As a result welfare providers on the Tees each receive monthly remittances fixed at a conservative level to help their budgeting and, as and when reserves accrue, occasional dividends are made.
It goes without saying that all the welfare organisations greatly appreciate this financial support which assists them in their work of serving seafarers, irrespective of nationality or creed, who visit our port.
We commend our levy scheme to other ports and hope that many other successful seafarers’ welfare boards such as the Tees Port Welfare Committee are created by the ISWAN pilot project." If you are interested in establishing port levies to support the provision of seafarers' welfare services in your port please contact us now.