Mission to Seafarers has become the first seafaring welfare charity to operate in Panama after signing a deal with the Panama Maritime Authority.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Christian charity will provide seafarer welfare services to the crews of ships docked in Panama's ports.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in London by the Rev Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of Mission to Seafarers, and Jorge Barakat Pitty, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).
The agreement allows Mission to Seafarers to provide welfare services at Panama's major ports, including the Panama Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Rev Wright said: 'We are proud of our global network of seafarers' centres, which spans over 200 ports and 50 countries, and today's agreement is a vital piece in this jigsaw, given the importance of Panama as a maritime hub and the essential role of the Panama Canal in international shipping.
'We are grateful to the Panama Maritime Authority for their support for seafarer welfare and their commitment to ensuring that all crews in Panamanian waters have access to welfare and wellbeing services.
'This agreement between the Mission and the Panama Maritime Authority will enable the many thousands of seafarers who pass through the Panama Canal and who call at Panama's ports to have access to our wide range of professional chaplaincy services, whenever they need it.'