A BRAND new 12-seater bus was officially handed over on Friday to the Mission to Seafarers Port Kembla.

Port Authority of New South Wales head of regional ports and chair of the Port Kembla Port Welfare Committee Peter Ernst said the new bus for The Mission to Seafarers in Port Kembla was made a reality after generous donations from across the local port community including AAT, NSW Ports, Blue Scope Port Kembla, Squadron Energy and Port Kembla Coal Terminal.

“I would like to congratulate and thank the Port Kembla port community who rallied together, digging deep to raise funds to support the Mission to Seafarers Port Kembla in their vital work supporting seafarer welfare,” Mr Ernst said.

“Life as a seafarer can often be very challenging and lonely, at sea for many months at a time, away from family and friends which is why supporting charities such as the Mission to Seafarers who support seafarers welfare by assisting with access to essential medical care or essential provisions or simply providing somebody to talk to when ships arrive in our ports is so important.”

Mr Ernst said the new bus would be put to good use and would enable the continuation of the pick-up and drop off bus service to get visiting seafarers quickly to services and facilities they need 365 days per year.

“This may be their only opportunity to replenish their basic essential items through a visit to a grocery store or access medical specialists like dentists and doctors before taking to their ocean home for many months at a time,” he said.

The Mission to Seafarers Port Kembla chaplain John Kewa said the port community of Port Kembla has shown courage and commitment in times of need, especially when it comes to advocacy and practical support for seafarers welfare.

“The recent fundraising initiative by the port community for the new bus is testimony to the growing spirit of goodwill and leadership,” Mr Kewa said.

“The new bus rightly belongs to the port community and the mission will act as custodians while caring for our seafarers.”