Many of the seafarers on board ships anchored here do not get the opportunity to come ashore. A large number of these vessels can be up to 18 miles out and it is too costly for the seafarers or their companies to consider shore-leave. The seafarers remain on board their ships off the coast of Fujairah and many are without the basic facilities on board that we take for granted. As a result, it is common for seafarers to go through long periods of isolation and loneliness, unable to communicate with family and friends at home.
Stephen Miller saw the effect these long periods of isolations was having on our seafarers first hand when he was continually called out to ships in the Fujairah anchorage. On stepping aboard usually one of the first things he would be asked was to borrow his mobile phone.
‘4 months ago I found out my wife was pregnant. She is in the Philippines and when I spoke to her she said she had to go in to hospital. I have not been able to speak to her since then and I have been very worried. Please can I use your phone to see if she is ok?’
Stephen handed over his phone. The seafarers quickly phoned home and found out he was the proud father of baby boy. One phone call turned this worried and anxious seafarer to a happy and thus much safer member of the crew. After this happening time and time again it occurred to Stephen that we, as a seafarers centre, needed to go to them as they could no longer come to us. This is where the idea of the Flying Angel started.
In 2006, the Angel Appeal was created to build and equip a boat to support as many seafarers as they could possibly reach. The M/V Flying Angel was built by Albwardy Marine in Al Jadaf, in under 10 months and at a cost of $1million. This achievement was only possible due to the generous and continued support of our kind donors which included:
Al Maktoum Foundation
The Nautical Institute
International Marine Coatings
International Transport Federation
Emirates National Bank of Dubai
The Flying Angel was launched in February 2007 by H.R.H. Prince Charles on the Dubai Creek. She has been in operation since and now welcomes aboard over 25,000 seafarers a year. To see her story in pictures please see our gallery below.