Global Food Crisis: Seafarers Shortage A Big Issue-Report
Safety and Security Concerns Delay Deployments
*Two merchant sailors died, seven commercial vessels hit by projectiles and two others sunk
Reports indicate that finding enough seafarers willing to sail ships stuck inside Ukraine’s ports is set to pose a major challenge to the proposed grains corridor designed to ease an international food crisis.
Russia and Ukraine last week signed a deal to restart grain and fertilizer exports that have been blocked in the Black Sea and on Wednesday Turkey unveiled a center to coordinate the resumption of shipments.
But some 80 ships remain blocked in Ukraine and the evacuation of most of their crew members means more mariners are needed in the region to get the cargoes moving.
Henrik Jensen, managing director of Danica, which specializes in providing crew for ships in Ukraine and eastern Europe, said it may be hard to find people willing to go.
“The main concern at the moment is the security of crew members,” he said.
At the start of the conflict in late February approximately 2,000 seafarers from all over the world were stranded aboard 94 vessels in Ukrainian ports.
Around 450 are left on the estimated 80 vessels remaining, mainly dry bulk ships that carry grain, but also other cargo vessels transporting other commodities, according to data from U.N. shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and from shipping sources.
Under last week’s U.N.-brokered deal, the first shipments of Ukrainian grain could leave Black Sea ports within days in theory.
But few seafarers are expected to be ready to travel to the region until they see the safe passage of the first ships, which will have to be guided round sea mines.
Two merchant sailors have died and seven commercial vessels have been hit by projectiles – with two sunk – around Ukraine’s coast since the war started on Feb. 24.
“Until national navies assist the Ukrainian authorities to sweep these mines and create a safe corridor, seafarers will face significant personal risk sailing through these stretches of water,” Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said.