SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights (CSR) has completed annual shore leave surveys since 2001. The surveys are carried out for one week each year and provide an assessment of seafarers’ ability to go on shore leave in the US. During the survey week, port chaplains from ports around the US keep records of seafarers’ shore leave on the ships they visit. They then share their data with the Center for Seafarers’ Rights.

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As part of the 2018 Shore Leave Survey, North American Maritime Ministry Association members and other port ministries in 23 US ports visited 338 vessels at over 133 terminals. In total, 6,444 seafarers from 59 different countries were represented in the analysis.

Port Chaplains also reported any obstacles imposed by terminals on seafarers’ and chaplains’ transits through the terminals. The US Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 requires terminals to provide a system that enables seafarers and chaplains to transit the terminal in a timely manner at no cost to the individual. While most terminals have initiated procedures in the spirit of the 2010 statute, some terminals remain challenging for seafarers to transit.

A summary of the survey’s findings includes the following:

  • During the survey week, 90.9% of the foreign seafarers on ships calling at ports in the US were allowed to go ashore. This data indicated a trend of gradual improvement in seafarers’ access to shore leave in US ports. Namely the percentage in 2017 was 90.5% and 89.7% in 2016.
  • The most common reason, 58.4%, for denial of shore leave resulted from the failure of a seafarer to have a valid US visa.

Other reasons for denial of shore leave included:

  • Exceeding 29 days in the US - 10%;
  • CBP denial of shore leave - 7.5%;
  • C-1 transit visa restrictions - 5.8%;
  • Operational requirements of the vessel - 3.6%;
  • Company policy - 2.7%;
  • Unspecified - 12.1%.

Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, noted:

It is incumbent upon each of us to recognize the importance of shore leave and access to seafarers’ welfare organizations. We must work together to facilitate crew morale, readiness, and personal well-being, while also remaining steadfast in ensuring port security.

See more information in the PDF herebelow