Russia’s military troops seized the crew members of a Liberian-flagged vessel dubbed SMARTA on the territory of Mariupol Commercial Sea Port.
ccording to information, the Russian troops took the ship to to an unknown destination, while the crew members had been taken toward Donetsk.
Before the ship was captured, Russia’s forces shelled the vessel. The vessel had reached the port of Mariupol on 21 February and was supposed return to Turkey, however it was not granted permission and was moored at the Mariupol seaport.
According to reports from Ukraine, the shelling of civil vessels has become a common practice for the Russian troops. Namely, due to repeated missile hits, a patrol ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet opened was forced to open fire on the “Apache” bulk carrier, which was sailing towards the Mariupol port, to stop it, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on April 9.
Furthermore, the bulk carriers named Namura Queen та and Lord Nelson that were flying a flag of Panama were subject to shelling while on anchorage in the northern part of the Black sea.
As of 30 March 2022, there are 86 reported merchant ships currently stranded in Ukrainian ports and waters, with approximately 1,000 seafarers. The IMO Secretariat is working with both Ukraine and the Russian Federation in order to assist the safe departure of the ships and their crew.