Seaways - April 2022

01 Apr 2022 Institute News

April Seaways is now available for members to read online!

A time to speak out

There are dark clouds over much of Europe as I write this, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces at the beginning of March 2022. The omnipresence of the global media allow us to see the terrible events unfolding despite the world-wide condemnation of the brutal attacks on both military and civilian targets.

Less visible is the devastating impact on the maritime community, whether local or international. Attacks on merchant ships are going largely unreported, and the laying of minefields, whether actual or threatened, will impact on the safety of navigation for years to come. The attacks on innocent seafarers are inexcusable.

A signignificant proportion of the world’s seafarers come from the region. The impact on mariners out of reach and unable to confirm the safety and well-being of their families has a devastating efect, touching the well-being of those on board. Even when tours of duty come to an end, it is likely that relief and repatriation flights will be difficult to secure and many seafarers will wish to stay with their families and move them to safety when they can.

The imposition of constraints on banking systems is likely to affect the ability to pay seafarers working for a number of companies with deployments all over the world. We support the position taken by a number of the NGO’s with consultative status at the IMO, that:

Seafarers are not the intended target of economic sanctions and we hope that every employer will extend every effort to allow:

● Communications with home;

● Repatriation to a safe place at the end of tours of duty;

● Early release from contracts where personal circumstances require this;

● Resolution of any payment difficulties for their employees.

We continue our support to the IMO Council in their statement, which strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of a United Nations Member State, extending to its territorial waters, which was inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the purposes of IMO as set forth in Article 1 of the Convention, and represents a grave danger to life and serious risk to safety of navigation and the marine environment.

Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine; we wish them every fortitude in these difficult days and look forward to when peace has returned to the region.

It is important that we do not return to an era of ‘Ships of Shame’ driven by unscrupulous operators. Our Flag States have a key role in this.


I think we all hoped for better times for the global seafaring community following the extended impact of the Covid pandemic. The resilience shown by the industry throughout the period was astounding and huge credit should go to our mariners who kept the world’s line of trade and communication open.

We know the period brought great challenges to employers and ship mangers as they tried to find places that would allow crew relief flights. We know the immigration and quarantine rules in many countries mitigated against timely and smooth crew transfer arrangements. And we know that seafarers, in many cases, had to suffer the shame of being treated like the cause of the infection being spread around the world.

Against this background, you would hope that now would be a time to return a level of dignity to the profession. To treat our mariners with the respect they deserve as seasoned professionals in one of the most important roles in society.

Recent events in the UK have highlighted that there is still much work to be done. It is not the role of The Nautical Institute to comment on the terms and conditions of employment under specific circumstances. What we do believe, is that people treated with respect will offer a higher degree of commitment to an employer versus one that treats them with disdain. We believe that security of employment and investment by both the employer and the individual in professional development will help deliver the safest, most effective and efficient operations for a ship and her owner.

We believe that the Maritime Labour Convention is there to help prevent workplace abuses in the maritime community and we call upon the Flag States of those vessels impacted to look in detail at the compliance issues and the fair treatment of those involved. We know that the choice of Flag is a highly important matter for ship operators. It is important that we do not return to an era of ‘Ships of Shame’ driven by unscrupulous operators. Our Flag States have a key role in this and we look forward to uncomp