Insufficient Number Of Seafarers Prevents Opening Of The Grain Corridor In Ukraine

Finding a sufficient number of seafarers wanting to sail vessel stuck at Ukraine’s ports is on the verge of posing a huge challenge to the proposed grains corridor that has been designed to ease an international food crisis. Ukraine and Russia signed a deal last week to help resume grains and fertilizer exports currently blocked in the Black Sea. On Wednesday, Turkey also launched a center to coordinate the shipments resumption.

At the beginning of the conflict in late February, almost 2,000 seafarers worldwide were stranded on 94 vessels at various Ukrainian ports. About 450 are left on approximately 80 vessels that remain; these are primarily dry bulk vessels that carry grain, but also other cargo vessels loaded with other commodities, consistent with the data from the UN shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and shipping sources.

But about 80 vessels stay blocked in Ukraine and the evacuation of most of their crew members indicates more mariners are required to have the cargoes moving. Henrik Jensen, who is the director of Danica, a firm that specializes in supplying crew members for ships in Ukraine as well as Eastern Europe, said that it will be difficult to find any seamen who are willing to go. The main concern is the security of the crew.

Following last week’s UN-brokered contract, the initial shipments of Ukrainian grains could depart from the Black Sea ports within some days. However, few seafarers are expected to be able to travel to the region until they perceive the safe passage of the first ships, which may need to be guided around the sea mines. Two sailors have lost their lives and seven commercial vessels were hit by projectiles – and two sank – off Ukraine’s coast since the war that started in February.

Image for representation purpose only

Juan Luciano, chief executive of food and commodities major named the Archer-Daniels-Midland, reportedly said that there were some issues regarding insurance as well as financial guarantees, also with challenges of fuel and getting crew members in place. But he mentioned that with time, the grains ought to be moving.

Until national navies help Ukraine’s authorities to comb the mines and create a safer corridor, seafarers will be encountering significant personal risks sailing through the stretches of water, per General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Stephen Cotton. The insurance market of London has placed the region on a high-risk list, meaning rapidly rising costs of shipments.

Initially, many vessels are going to be required to be backed by the Ukrainians, four anonymous industry sources reported. They added that finding a decent number of local seafarers would even be a bigger challenge. Some local seafarers from Ukraine that have kept the vessels maintained have encountered a lot of difficulties owing to restrictions on the nationals leaving the country in case they are required to provide military services.

References: Reuters, AG WEB, CGTN, BollyInside

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