Shipowners are taking additional efforts and also contributing hefty amounts to safely evacuate seafarers who are trapped in the Black Sea due to the intensifying war caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the case of the 22 crew members from the Philippines on the 2012-built oil tanker dubbed MTM Rio Grande that reached on 12 March 2022, their principal had to employ private armed personnel to make sure they have a safe evacuation.
On 12 March, the seafarers reached the Ninoy Aquino International and were welcomed by Librodo and Cristina Garcia, the Group President of the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA). The MTM Rio Grande arrived at Evpatoria port on 24 February, however, the port stopped operating on the same day after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Recalling their harrowing experiences, a crewmember recounted how the principal and manning office had ordered them to pull out, however, the pilot had abandoned the vessel since it could not sail any longer. They remained stranded for two weeks. Unsure when they would be evacuated, the crew reduced consumption of food and water.
The crew member said fear and panic struck them, especially when they saw a missile hit a ship nearby, killing a third engineer from Bangladesh. They tried contacting the manning office as well as the principal, pleading to facilitate an evacuation.
With armed security escorts to their rescue, the Filipino crew could disembark and make a safe landing in Palanca, a port that lies between the borders of Moldova and Romania. Then they moved to Hungary, where the crewing firm had arranged a rescue flight for them.
On the additional expenditure that the principal had to incur for ensuring safe evacuation of seafarers, the president of Next Wave announced that they were not bothered about the financial outcome. He added that it is a good investment for the firm that we could bring them to their families.
He also mentioned that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be extending counseling services to these seafarers.
Librodo made a commitment to facilitate their transfer immediately. His crewing company is supplying crew members and officers to more than 60 various kinds of vessels.