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Call for ‘safe corridors’ for ships trapped in Ukraine

Shipping associations call for help for seafarers facing dangers and other problems stemming from the invasion of Ukraine

Industry groups are calling for safe maritime corridors to be on the agenda of today’s extraordinary session of the International Maritime Organization council meeting called to discuss the plight of ships and seafarers in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov

SHIPPING wants safe maritime corridors to be negotiated to allow vessels trapped in Ukraine to leave.

“Humanitarian corridors” are a necessity because of the widely reported presence of mines around a number of ports and a number of incidents off the Ukrainian coast where vessels have been hit by shells or rockets.

An extraordinary session of the International Maritime Organization council has been called to discuss the plight of ships and seafarers in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The industry submission has been coordinated between the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, and several other leading industry associations as well as P&I Clubs.

None of the documents submitted for the March 10 meeting are in the public domain but the high focus on safe corridors out of ports was confirmed to Lloyd’s List by senior industry sources.

A prerequisite for many of the stranded ships to leave, however, is for safe land corridors for crews to join the vessels and that may require a ceasefire, shipping sources said.

At least 30 bulk carriers are currently unable to leave their berths in Ukraine, according to estimates.

Some of these are understood to be left with a skeleton crew while the majority of seafarers have been transported out of Ukraine, while in some cases the vessels have been completely evacuated.

Greece-based Star Bulk Carriers said it has taken all crew members off three kamsarmaxes in Ukrainian ports. In each case, the vessel is partly loaded with grain after cargo operations were “abruptly interrupted”.

The vessels affected include the 82,150 dwt Star Helena (IMO: 9361213) in the port of Chornomorsk, south of Odessa, and the 82,000 dwt Star Pavlina (IMO: 9917490) in Nikolayev. Both are understood to have been loading sunflower meal pellets.

Meanwhile, the 82,192 dwt Star Laura (IMO: 9328936) is in the port of Pivdennyi, adjacent to Yuzhny, partly laden with corn.

Star Bulk said all 75 seafarers are now “safe in Bucharest” after being transported by buses to Moldova and then moved on to Romania. The majority are Filipino nationals with a sprinkling of Romanian engineers.

According to a company spokesperson, the vessels are being guarded by private security teams.

Not all the bulkers caught in Ukrainian ports are loading cargo. Some are still laden with valuable import cargoes for Ukraine.

The industry submission to the IMO Council meeting is likely to underline the risks facing innocent seafarers in the vicinity and to condemn attacks as unacceptable.

“It is a very, very difficult situation,” one senior industry representative told Lloyd’s List: “Unfortunately it is also very complex and companies with vessels in the region are facing a huge number of practical issues.”

Industry associations were said to be putting forward a list of eight proposals aimed at alleviating dangers and problems being  faced by seafarers due to the crisis.

 

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