April 20th, 2022

Ukraine Conflict disrupts Seafaring Industry

The crisis in Ukraine brought about by Russia’s invasion has affected the seafaring industry as crewmembers from both nationalities are feeling the impact of the conflict.

Ukrainian seafarers are fearing for the safety of their families at home. The country’s trade union for maritime transport says 55 to 60 percent of the 80,000 Ukrainian seafarers are currently at sea and about a fifth of them want to go ashore as soon as possible to defend their country.

The conflict is also affecting Russian seafarers infringing their mobility while sanctions against Russian banks have caused difficulties in salary payment.

Ukraine Conflict disrupts Seafaring Industry copyRussia and Ukraine account for nearly 15 percent of the world’s 1.89 million seafarers. According to the latest Seafarers Workforce Report from 2021, both countries are also among the top five countries with the highest number of seafarers.

“It will be a major challenge to find sufficient seafarers worldwide if the war continues. That could cause a huge disruption to the entire global maritime transport,” said one official from an international shipowner group.

The conflict has also affected other seafarers not from the two countries. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as many as 1,000 seafarers are trapped, including in the besieged city of Mariupol and on vessels in the Sea of Azov. 

The IMO together with International Labor Organization (ILO) called for urgent action to protect seafarers and vessels stranded in Ukrainian ports and nearby waters following the Russian aggression against the country.

“As well as the dangers arising from bombardment, many of the ships concerned now lack food, fuel, freshwater, and other vital supplies. The situation of the seafarers from many countries is becoming increasingly untenable as a result, presenting grave risks to their health and well-being."

Meanwhile, a coalition of unions and ship managers have successfully helped over 100 seafarers and their family members to find refuge from ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.

The move by the ILO and IMO follows urgent communications about the situation sent by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). ILO, IMO, ICS and ITF are working together to provide these relief agencies with information that may assist them to address this situation.

In March, the ILO's Governing Body passed a resolution calling on the Russian Federation to "immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression" against Ukraine.

Crossworld has already activated alternative means to secure both Ukrainian and Russian seafarers' wages are paid without interruption.