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A bulk carrier departs the Port of Odessa prior to the war. Image courtesy VolodymyrT /

A bulk carrier departs the Port of Odessa, Ukraine, February 13, 2020. Credit: VolodymyrT /

Shipping Industry Calls on UN to Help Seafarers Still Trapped in Ukraine

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 872
February 20, 2023

One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 331 seafarers and 62 ships remain trapped in Ukrainian ports.

The international shipping industry has launched a joint call to the U.N. Secretary General to prioritize the immediate release of seafarers and ships that remain trapped in Ukrainian ports.

An open letter, initiated by the International Chamber of Shipping and signed by more than 30 maritime organizations and companies, calls on UNSG António Guterres to immediately take the necessary actions to return the trapped seafarers to safety. The letter comes ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023.

At the onset of the war, 112 vessels crewed by more than 2,000 seafarers were berthed in Ukranian ports across the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Today, there are 331 seafarers and 62 ships that remain trapped in Ukrainian ports.

The international shipping community has continually called for the safe and immediate evacuation of the trapped seafarers throughout the past year.

“Our seafarers are the heart of our industry and cannot be forgotten. For 12 months now they have been caught up in a crisis far beyond their control. Simply doing their jobs cannot come at the expense of their lives,” the letter states.

Shipping companies, charities, and unions have worked in coordination with international organizations to facilitate the evacuation effort, supported the trapped seafarers’ families, and provided them with provisions including food, clean water, and medical supplies. Shipping has also been integral to carrying out the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

“Without our seafarers, movement of the vital grain shipments out of Ukrainian ports would not have been possible. While there are challenges to evacuating seafarers and their ships, it must nonetheless be a top priority. Otherwise, we risk the lives of our seafarers, and this is unacceptable,” the letter states.

Signatories to the letter include BIMCO, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, and the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), to name just a few.

The full letter can be found here.

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