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SAVANNAH, GA. – Sept. 2, 2021 – Maritime Bethel at Savannah (MBS) and their partners reached a huge milestone by administering their 2,000th COVID-19 vaccination to seafarers at the Port of Savannah on August 24, 2021. To date, MBS has vaccinated 2,166 seafarers across 161 ships.

The Rotary Club of Savannah, Georgia Department of Public Health, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Georgia Ports Authority, the Colonial Group, Inc., and MBS worked together to provide free access to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for seafarers who call on the Port of Savannah. These partners work together to provide facilities that ensure the safe and proper dissemination of the vaccine within the gated Ports of Savannah. The medical team, provided by CORE, administers these vaccines on board the vessels, escorted into the port by the MBS team.

Many seafarers come from underdeveloped nations and are typically on board their vessels from 6 – 9 months and COVID protocols restrict the majority of them from leaving their ships. Most come from countries where the COVID vaccine is not readily available. This inoculation opportunity helps to keep seafarers safe and healthy while onboard vessels and ensures that they arrive home to their families after months at sea.

“Ninety percent of everything we consume is transported on ships operated by seafarers. People don’t often realize that without these seafarers, their quality of life would be much different than what they experience today,” MBS Executive Director John Houchens said. “Seafarers are essentially invisible. They are on ships, out at sea, and in highly secured environments for months, so we never see or think about them. But they are essential to the daily lives we live. Without them, our lives would be completely different.”

According to the Georgia Ports Authority, the Port of Savannah is the largest single-operator and fastest-growing container terminal in America, with over 78,000 seafarers and 4,200 ships visiting Savannah each year. In terms of total volume, it is the fourth-largest port in the nation. Seafarers worked throughout the entire pandemic, growing cargo volumes by 20 percent in 2021.

For more information about Maritime Bethel Savannah and its vaccination initiative with its partners, please call John Houchens at 912.398.0896, email or visit the website at

Since 2007, the faith-based Christian nonprofit organization has been providing “far away from home” personal, spiritual, emotional, and practical support to seafarers who come into the Port of Savannah on ships from all over the world. MBS is not affiliated with any one church or denomination and serves all seafarers regardless of creed.

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For media inquiries, please contact Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100, Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, or the LFPR office at 912-417-5377.