Call for Action: Plight of the Seafarers

An estimated 300,000 crew are now overdue to leave their vessels. Many have been aboard their ships since February when the pandemic began its sweep around the world. Changing health, quarantine and immigration restrictions that vary from port to port have made scheduled crew changes impossible, and the situation could worsen as a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks occur. What can be done by shipowners, crew management companies, governments and others to make it possible for seafarers to return to their families? And what can you do to help? This special edition of BreakbulkONE will look at the issue from several perspectives and offer ways that you can contribute to a solution.



Dennis Mottola, Global Logistics Consultant

Dennis Mottola is a Global Logistics Consultant based in Houston, Texas. He served as Bechtel Corporation’s global head of Logistics from 1997 until 2019. Dennis now supports shippers, logistics service providers, and other related entities by increasing knowledge, expertise and improving process and data efficiencies thereby creating opportunities for cost reduction, risk mitigation, and positive outcomes in global logistics management.
Fr. Sinclair K. Oubre, J.C.L., Apostleship of the Sea-Diocese of Beaumont

Fr. Sinclair is a priest of the Diocese of Beaumont, and a native of Port Arthur, Texas. He is currently the Diocesan Director of the Apostleship of the Sea, Permanent Diaconate Formation Program Director, and Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Orange, Texas. He is the Executive Director and Port Chaplain of the Port Arthur International Seafarers’ Center.  He is the Chaplain to the Sabine Area Central Labor Council, and was the founder and director of the Savannah Housing Corporation from 1993-2013.  As a canon lawyer, he has served a judge at the Tribunal of the Diocese of Beaumont, the Interdiocesan Appellate Tribunal of Texas and as a canonical consultant for a number of labor organizations.

He is one of the founders and is the spiritual moderator for the Catholic Labor Network, and works to revitalize the historical connection between Catholic Social Teachings and working men and women.

Fr. Sinclair is also a member of the United States Merchant Marine, and holds a merchant marine credential as AB-Limited, and holds a 100 ton near coastal master license. He sails through the Houston Seafarers International Union hall. In the summer of 2019, he signed on the Training Ship Golden Bear with the cadets of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy for 29 days.
Thomas Damsgaard, Director, Inchcape Shipping Services

Thomas Damsgaard has enjoyed an exciting 30-year career in the shipping industry. After training with Armada Shipping, he earned his stripes in a succession of increasingly challenging roles in general and senior functional management roles for market leaders including the Clipper Group, Spliethoff Group, SAL and Scan-Trans. Damsgaard served as President of Scan-Trans before being promoted to Global Operations Director. Most recently, he was instrumental in establishing the Spliethoff Americas office in Houston, where he served as Vice President. As director at Inchcape, Damsgaard is responsible for leading the marine operations teams to excellence in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. An active member of the Houston maritime community, he fills leading roles on several boards, including the Houston Maritime Arbitrators Association.
Reiner Wiederkehr, CEO, Fracht USA

Reiner Wiederkehr, CEO of Fracht USA, has more than 20 years in the logistics industry. In 2002, he moved from Germany to the United States to help grow the Fracht brand. In 2004, Wiederkehr was promoted to manager of the Houston branch, which is now the company’s largest office in the US. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2012, opening and supporting new branches. Today, Fracht USA has 12 divisions operating in 10 different cities across the US. Weiderkehr continually helps build and develop specialized divisions, including ocean, air, land, rail and project cargo, making Fracht a leader in the industry. He promotes innovative and tailor-made solutions to give Fracht’s customers dedicated personal support at every turn.