Thousands of Ukrainian and Russian seafarers are stuck in ports around the world as the war in Ukraine rages on and shipowners are having difficulties finding replacement crews to keep strained supply chains rolling.
ccording to ICS, crews from Russia and Ukraine make up for 17% of the world’s 1.9 million sailors, and at least 60,000 are currently at sea or at ports waiting. Commenting on the dire situation, George Xiradakis, managing director of Athens-based maritime adviser XRTC Business Consultants, noted that:
It’s very challenging for the crews and another hit to the fractured supply chains just as we are coming out of Covid. It’s a big hole in crewing because a big part of the Russian and Ukrainian sailors are senior officers like captains, executive officers and mechanics. They often work on the same ships, and you can’t find people of that rank to replace them easily
For this reason, shipowners are turning to other seafaring nations like the Philippines and Romania, offering seafarers up to double their salaries for sailings over the next two months.
In fact, currently, an estimated 50,000 Russian and Ukrainian sailors are at sea or waiting at ports around the world to be replaced. This happens as there are no flights back home, and most cannot get paid as their bank accounts do not work or have come under sanctions.
We evacuated 40 sailors from two Greek-owned ships stuck in the port of Odessa in Ukraine. They were from Greece, Romania and the Philippines. We also moved out our consul staff because Odessa will likely come under attack
said Alexandros Papaioannou, spokesman for Greece’s foreign ministry.
What is more, the Wall Street Journal notes that the crew shortages come as dozens of ships remain stuck in ports around the world waiting to unload cargo on the back of labor shortages across the supply chain, including truck capacity and warehousing space.
Commenting on the situation, Gaby Bornheim, president of the German Shipowners Association, told reporters in Hamburg that:
We are shocked with what is happening and demand that all ships and their crews be allowed to leave the conflict zone unharmed. People from dozens of countries live and work on board the ships of Germany’s merchant fleet—including thousands of Ukrainian and Russian seafarers. Their well-being is paramount