Shipping Companies Ask Crew to Abandon Ships Stuck in Ukraine

Shipping Companies Ask Crew to Abandon Ships Stuck in Ukraine

Some shipowners have begun to ask crew to abandon their ships stuck off the coast of Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion of its neighbor reached the end of its second week.

M.T. Maritime has evacuated 22 Filipino seafarers from its oil-products tanker MTM Rio Grande, leaving the vessel unmanned and moored at Nika-Tera port in Ukraine, the company said in an e-mailed reply to queries. The crew are currently in Romania waiting for a flight back to the Philippines, it said.

Ukraine’s ports closed on February 24, when Russian troops began their incursion. At least five out of 140 ships stuck in the country’s waters have been hit by explosions, killing a Bangladeshi seafarer. 

As intense fighting and shelling continues across cities in Ukraine -- a key grains exporter -- ship owners are grappling with dwindling food supplies and the possibility of a protracted war, according to people with knowledge of ships in the area. That’s forcing some owners to ask their crew to abandon vessels, they said.

More than 1,000 seafarers are estimated to be onboard ships stranded in Ukraine, some with cargo still onboard. The vessels -- which include tankers, bulkers, cargo ships and a container vessel -- aren’t able to leave because there aren’t harbor pilots to guide them out amid danger from missiles and underwater mines.

“We understand some ships may have been laid up,” said a spokeswomen for the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations, without providing further details.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.