International Maritime Organization focuses on the safety of ships and seafarers in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov – Marine / Shipping

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The ongoing armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted commercial maritime trade and stranded ships and their crews in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov. This region has historically been an important area for maritime trade.


Figure 1. Map of the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov. public domain. Ian Macky, Black Sea | Karadeniz | Chorne More | Marea Neagra | Shavi Zghva2010, in PAT: Portable Atlas,

In direct response to the maritime crisis, the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) has convened an Emergency Task Force (“ETF”) to try to minimize the danger to the shipping industry and the extreme health risks to stranded crew members in the Region.1 To this end, the ETF developed a stranded ship reporting form and distributed advice and guidance to flag States.

The crisis in the region

At the beginning of the conflict, the IMO reported that approximately 94 ships and 2000 seamen were stranded in Ukrainian ports including but not limited to Mariupol, Kherson and Mykolaiv. By April 2022, the number of stranded vessels had been reduced by just 12 vessels to 84.2

The IMO describes the circumstances of the stranded ships in the region as “unsustainable”.3 The IMO has worked in conjunction with the International Labor Organization (“ILO”) and has jointly appealed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help seafarers. In addition, the IMO has issued a humanitarian appeal to Ukrainian charities, state port authorities and the ILO to support seafarers and ports.4

The IMO aims to establish a Blue Safe Sea Corridor

On March 10th and 11th, 2022, the IMO Council, in cooperation with the relevant parties, proposed the establishment of a blue safe sea corridor. The purpose of the corridor was to allow ships safe passage to evacuate safely from the area.5

On March 31, 2022, the IMO Council at its thirty-fifth extraordinary session sent Circular No. 4524/Add.2 to (1) the United Nations; (2) intergovernmental organizations; and (3) non-governmental organizations with consultative status at the IMO. The Circular has been prepared in accordance with Article I of the IMO Convention and the mandate of the IMO Strategic Plan to promote safe and environmentally responsible shipping through the joint cooperation of Member States. In this circular, the IMO asked for proposals to reduce the suffering of trapped seafarers and ships.

Resolution of the Maritime Safety Committee

Measures to facilitate the urgent evacuation of seafarers from the war zone in and around the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov as a result of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine” during its multi-day session on April 28, 2022.6 The MSC resolution contained the following statements:

  1. The MSC passed UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/ES-11/1 on March 2, 2022, condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and calling for the cessation of military action by the Russian Federation.

  2. The MCS encouraged member states to engage in efforts to protect seafarers and ships in the region affected by the armed conflict.

  3. The MSC stressed the need to protect the global shipping industry and prevent disruption to international trade supply chains.

  4. The MSC condemned the harassment of seafarers and ships engaged in international trade because of their flag states and the nationality of the crew on board the ships.

  5. The MSC stressed that ships should have the right to leave ports of Ukraine as soon as possible safely and without threat of attack.

  6. The MSC expressed support for the IMO Secretary General to work with member states to establish a Blue Safe Sea Corridor in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov to allow safe passage out of the area.

  7. The MSC emphasized that ships in international trade should not be “collateral victims in the political and military crisis”.7

The MSC expressed its concern and concern that merchant vessels have been illegally seized and detained in violation of international law. In addition, MSC members said they were deeply concerned that Ukrainian ports did not have safe access to food, water and medical supplies. Finally, the MSC called on the international community to work together to provide a blue security corridor for the evacuation of the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov regions.



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Originally released ATLP.

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