Great Podcasts for those in Seafarers’ Welfare

By Jason Zuidema, NAMMA

I have been looking forward to writing this list for a long time. I love podcasts – listening to great audio is one of my favourite pastimes.

Though we might think of the 21st century as a time of the image or the screen, it is equally, I think, the golden age of radio, or, more specifically, podcasts. Whether listening with our Apple or Android device or via Spotify, Soundcloud or Google podcasts, there are hundreds of podcasts and thousands of hours of content that can fit our tastes and moods.

The past years have brought a number of fantastic podcasts on shipping and seafarers’ welfare. The following is a roundup of some individual stories and podcast series that those interested in seafarers’ welfare might enjoy. If you know of others, please let us know!

Podcast series – “As the Crow Flies” – Rev. Lance Lukin, The Mission to Seafarers

As The Crow Flies is a new podcast series by Rev. Lance Lukin, Port Chaplain, Wellington, NZ and New Zealand Regional Director for The Mission to Seafarers. Created through funding from The Mission to Seafarers, As the Crow Flies, is a podcast is for anyone working in maritime ministry. The first episodes are on digital chaplaincy, self-care, advocacy and seafarers’ mental health. It is a great podcast – highly recommended. Listen here.


99% Invisible – Episode 376 – “Great Bitter Lake Association”

99% Invisible is a podcast about the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about – the unnoticed architecture and design that shapes our world. This podcast is about a stamp that went unnoticed with the letters “GLBA”. The story is that of a convoy of ships that were trapped after the 1967 Six-Day War the on a section of the Suez called the Great Bitter Lake. The ships banded together to provide a sense of stability in an incredibly unstable place. Listen here.


“The Last Voyage of the Pong Su” – The Age

A North Korean dictator, bags of heroin, drug lords, spooks, sailors, Australian cops and a web of lies. North Korean cargo ship the Pong Su comes dangerously close to Australia’s Great Ocean Road shoreline as part of a high-risk, high-reward operation to import a record amount of heroin.  This podcast is an amazing story, but also is a window into the lives of North Korean merchant mariners. A local Korean-speaking Mission to Seafarers chaplain features at several intervals in the story. Highly recommended. Listen here.


“Containers”, an 8-part audio documentary hosted by Alexis Madrigal

Containers is an 8-part audio documentary about how global trade has transformed the economy and ourselves. Host and correspondent Alexis Madrigal leads you through the world of ships and sailors, technology and tugboats, warehouses and cranes. Containers provides an illuminating, deep, and weird look at how capitalism actually works now. Listen here.


50 Things that Made the Modern Economy – Episode “Cold Chain”

The global supply chain that keeps perishable goods at controlled temperatures has revolutionised the food industry. It widened our choice of food and improved our nutrition. It enabled the rise of the supermarket. And that, in turn, transformed the labour market: less need for frequent shopping frees up women to work. As low-income countries get wealthier, fridges are among the first things people buy: in China, it took just a decade to get from a quarter of households having fridges to nearly nine in ten. Listen here. (Hear also the “Shipping Container” episode.)


The Shipping Podcast – Episode 140 – Lesley Warrick

The Shipping Podcast is hosted by Lena Gothberg. Episode 140 was released on Thursday, June 25, 2020 since that was the International Day of the Seafarer, the day when we celebrate the seafarers who serve us during the pandemic by keeping trade lanes open. Listen to Lesley M. Warrick, Executive Director at the Seafarer’s House at Port Everglades and how they serve the seafarers visiting them, and what support they have been able to give during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seafarer’s House at Port Everglades is open throughout the year as a safe, friendly place where mariners can connect with their families, relax, or get emergency assistance if needed. Listen to episode 140 here. (Listen to the whole series here – there are many other episodes with leaders in seafarers’ welfare.)


“The Seafarers Stranded on the high seas,” BBC The Documentary Podcast

There are currently 200,000 seafarers stuck working on vessels across the globe and unable to be relieved of their duties. These are the men and women responsible for transporting 90% of the world’s trade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. While goods are still flowing, the people transporting these goods are struggling. Every month, 100,000 seafarers leave their ships and are replaced by others. But due to covid-19, most of these crew changes have been cancelled for several months. Seafarers are in effect prisoners unable to leave the ship. Listen here. (Listen also to the 2017 episode “Chaplains of the Sea“)


Soul Search – ABC Radio – “Stories from the sea: from ancient myths to merchant ships” – 12 Jul 2020

Soul Search is hosted by Dr. Meredith Lake who is in conversation with Deacon Patrick Moore, director and chaplain at the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre in Freemantle, Western Australia and Dr Tamara Prosic, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University. Deacon Moore reflects on many years attending to the needs and wellbeing of shipping workers that pass through the port. Dr. Prosic tells Meredith about the Mesopotamian myth Enuma Elish, and examines the sea as a threatening and transformative place in the biblical story of Jonah. Listen here.


The Lloyd’s List Podcast: “Crewing crisis reaches boiling point”

Lloyd’s List is the world’s leading source of news, analysis and data for shipping businesses and professionals. Governments have this week pledged to speed up efforts to get hundreds of thousands of stranded merchant sailors home, but this comes after months of similar rhetoric and limited action. So can we expect things to change? International Maritime Organization secretary general Kitack Lim – our guest on this week’s podcast – says yes. We are, he argues, in a wartime situation with the pandemic. Government responses have required time to heart up, but they are have now reached boiling point and the recent pledges are more than just promises. Listen to the episode here. (Or listen to the podcast series here).

And a few honourable mentions:

Any great seafarers’ welfare podcasts or news reports missing? Let us know!

About: Dr. Jason Zuidema is the Executive Director of the North American Maritime Ministry Association and General Secretary of the International Christian Maritime Association