MARY MEAUX — Seafarers’ Center plays vital role for mariners, Port Arthur outreach

Published 12:08 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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I’ve long known the importance of our waterways and the maritime industry.

The waterway has been described as a system of highways or even as the lifeblood for the economy of the city, state and, maybe, the nation.

I have and have had family members work in careers associated with the maritime industry, and through my years at The Port Arthur News, learned so much more about the industry.

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Port Arthur International Seafarers’ Center in Port Arthur recently held its annual cocktail party benefiting the organization, and though I was unable to attend, I made a call this week and spoke with Doreen Badeaux to check on the festivities.

Badeaux, with the Apostleship of the Sea, said the general annual meeting featuring hors d’oeuvres and cocktails thanks supporters; it was also a time to update them on activities and funds.

I say all of this to get to the point — the Seafarer’s Center provides a vital role to the seafarers who come here.

During the pandemic when seafarers weren’t able to disembark the ship, the Center did the shopping for them. Thousands of dollars were spent by seafarers on things like Pringles and chocolates to vitamins and other items.

On Wednesday the Center received a delivery of a barbell that will be delivered to a seafarer aboard a ship, she said.

As pandemic restrictions were eased, the Center began to see more and more mariners who were able to get off their respective ships. The Center provides TWIC transportation in and out of the facilities where they are docked.

U.S. mariners have TWIC cards, but if they are docked at a refinery or similar area, they can’t just get off the ship and wander around — which is the reason for the TWIC certified transportation.

Funds donated by supporters of the Center go for several tasks.

Quite a bit of the funds go for fuel, and there’s also considerable insurance cost because the Center visits approximately 30 facilities, Badeaux said. Some of the facilities include the Port of Port Arthur, Port of Orange, Port of Sabine Pass, Cheniere Energy, which is on the Louisiana side of the waterway. They also visit a number of other industrial sites.

Time plays a big part in all of this as well. Most ships are only docked 24 to 48 hours, and during that time the mariner has his own work schedule.

When he receives shore leave it must be done on a schedule to allow the person time to shop or visit a dentist or even rest at the Center and also allow for travel time back to the ship.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the spiritual support given by the Center. They officer chaplain support via phone and several other methods.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter for The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at