DUBAI: It is curtains down for MV Flying Angel, a purpose-built ship that offered Internet and telecommunications to seafarers in the UAE.
Paul Burt, regional director of The Mission to Seafarers, the global charity mission which commissioned the vessel in March 2007, said: “Advanced communications, high ship repair and dry-docking costs and difficulty in fundraising were the main reasons why we decided to discontinue the vessel’s operation.”
He said the purpose for which the ship was built has been lost today. “Back in 2007, seafarers could not contact their families and friends via phone or internet from their ships and MV Flying Angel became a communication hub for them. Since then, there has been a lot of advancement in telecommunications facilities. Most ships docked in the UAE provide internet connections for their crew. Besides, they all have a mobile phone with them today.”
MV Flying Angel is also said to have run into huge maintenance bills totalling over Dh750,000. “Funding this would have eaten into a chunk of our charity reserves. So we felt it was the right time to give up the vessel.”
A Fujairah company is said to have bought the vessel which will now function as a commercial vehicle transporting crew and supplies to and from the emirate’s anchorage. When it was launched, MV Flying Angel became the first floating seafarers’ support centre in the world. Till date it has served over 150,000 seafarers. The ship was inaugurated by Britain’s Prince Charles at a ceremony at Dubai Creek in 2007. It was built by Albwardy Marine in Al Jadaf, in less than a year at a cost of Dh3.6 million.
Burt said the money was provided by a group of sponsors who responded to a fundraising appeal by The Mission to Seafarers in the UAE.
He said The Mission to Seafarers in the UAE will discontinue services connected with Angel Appeal. “The name Angel Appeal was useful when MV Flying Angel was in service as it helped raise funds for the ship. Now it does not bring any value. We will slowly phase out all services connected with this name.”