THE International Chamber of Shipping has warned hindering the movements of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers may result in supply-chain disruptions.  

The warning follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, which has impacted the movement of freight in and around the Black Sea.

Several shipping companies have promptly ceased and suspended services in the region, diverting any vessels bound for Ukrainian ports.

The 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report from the ICS and BIMCO suggests there are 1.89 million seafarers operating more than 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet.

Russian seafarers account for 10.5% of this workforce, with 198,123 Russian nationals working at sea at the time of publication. 71,652 were officers, and 126,471 were ratings.

Ukrainian seafarers make up 4% of the global seafaring workforce, the total of 76,442 Ukrainian nationals comprising 47,058 officers and 29,383 ratings.

Combined, Russian and Ukrainian seafarers represent 14.5% of the workforce.

As the conflict between the two nations impacts airports and availability of flights, the ICS has expressed concern seafarers from the region will be unable to perform crew change.

This reflects an earlier warning that the shortage of seafarers on commercial vessels would be detrimental to supply chains.   

ICS secretary general Guy Platten said Russian and Ukrainian seafarers must be protected from government actions to keep supply chains moving.

“The safety of our seafarers is our absolute priority. We call on all parties to ensure that seafarers do not become the collateral damage in any actions that governments or others may take,” he said.

“Seafarers have been at the forefront of keeping trade flowing though the pandemic and we hope that all parties will continue to facilitate free passage of goods and these key workers at this time.”