Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers continue to be stuck in ports all over the world as the war in Ukraine intensifies. On the other hand, ship owners are struggling to find replacement crews to have the strained supply chains rolling.
Research from ICS shows that an average vessel has a mix of a minimum of three nationalities, and sometimes the number goes up to 30. ICS has called on governments to facilitate access to emergency medical care for seafarers after it appeared that crews are refused treatment at ports during the ongoing pandemic.
Given such a history, on March 10 and 11, the International Maritime Organization has called for an Extraordinary Council Session. The focus will be on addressing the massive effect on seafarers and overall shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
Crews from Ukraine and Russia make up a cumulative 17% of the world’s 1.9 million sailors operating over 74,000 vessels. At least 60,000 sailors are now at the sea or at ports waiting, per crewing agencies and shipping executives. There are zero flights back to their homes, and most of the stranded individuals cannot access their salary or be paid as their bank accounts are under the recent sanctions or do not work.
Ship owners are now turning to seafaring nations like Romania and the Philippines, offering seafarers up to double salaries for sailings for the next two months per maritime brokers in Singapore and London.
Crew shortages hit as dozens of vessels continue to be stuck in ports all over the world waiting to unload their cargo when there is a labor shortage across the supply chain, including warehousing space and truck capacity.
Ship freight rates currently have exceeded double of what they were this time last year and delivery times to large US and importers from Europe have exceeded triple with not enough vessels in the water to cope with the demand.
Almost 5,000 sailors from both Ukraine and Russia work on Germany’s merchant vessels with sailors from these countries, often working together on the same ships.
Gaby Bornheim, the German Shipowners Association president told reporters that they are in a state of shock with what is happening, and they demand that all vessels with their crew members be permitted to depart from the war-prone area unharmed.
He added that individuals from dozens of countries work and live on board the vessels of the German merchant fleet, including thousands of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers. Their health and well-being are paramount.