Thousands of Ukrainian and Russian sailors remain stranded in ports


Thousands of Ukrainian and Russian sailors are stranded in ports around the world as the war in Ukraine escalates and shipowners scramble to find replacement crews to keep supply chains tight.

Crews from Russia and Ukraine together make up 17% of the world’s 1.9 million seafarers and at least 60,000 are currently at sea or in ports on standby, according to shipping executives and crewing agencies .

“It’s very difficult for crews and another blow to fractured supply chains just as we emerge from Covid,” said George Xiradakis, managing director of Athens-based maritime adviser XRTC Business Consultants. “It’s a big hole in the crew because a lot of Russian and Ukrainian sailors are senior officers like captains, senior officers and mechanics. They often work on the same ships, and you can’t easily find people of that rank to replace them.

Shipowners are turning to other shipping nations like the Philippines and Romania, offering sailors up to double their pay for crossings over the next two months. according to London and Singapore ship brokers.

An estimated 50,000 Russian and Ukrainian seafarers are at sea or waiting in ports around the world to be replaced. There are no flights home and most cannot be paid because their bank accounts are not working or have been sanctioned.

“We have evacuated 40 sailors from two Greek ships stranded in the port of Odessa in Ukraine,” said Alexandros Papaioannou, spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry. “They came from Greece, Romania and the Philippines. We have also moved our consul staff as Odessa is likely to be attacked.

The crew shortages come as dozens of ships remain stranded in ports around the world waiting to unload cargo due to labor shortages in the supply chain, including truck capacity and storage space. Vessel freight rates are more than double what they were this time this year, and delivery times to major US and European importers have more than tripled with not enough vessels in the water to meet Requirement.

As many as 5,000 Russian and Ukrainian sailors work on German merchant ships, with sailors from both countries often working on the same ships.

“We are shocked by what is happening and demand that all ships and their crews be allowed to leave the conflict zone safe and sound,” Gaby Bornheim, president of the Association of German Shipowners, told reporters in Hamburg. “People from dozens of countries live and work on board the ships of the German merchant fleet, including thousands of Ukrainian and Russian sailors. Their well-being is paramount. »

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