While all major Ukrainian ports are operating normally, ships destined for Ukraine’s Azov Sea ports may experience delays due to inspections carried out by the Russian authorities.
As tensions have escalated between Russia and the Ukraine following Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels on 25 November 2018, Gard has been approached by shipowners and operators expressing concerns for the safety of ships and crew members visiting ports in the Azov Sea. In this alert, we summarise the most recent situation reports and advice provided by Gard’s local correspondents and contacts in the region.
We would, however, like to emphasise that the situation remains fluid and advice to ships calling at ports in the region may change at any time. Shipowners and operators are therefore advised to continuously evaluate the situation, carry out an assessment of the risks involved prior to entry, and take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the ship and crew. This includes making frequent checks with local sources of information, e.g. ship’s agent, port authorities, etc., to obtain the most up to date and reliable security information available at any given time.
According to information received from Gard’s correspondents, the situation in Ukraine ports and in the Kerch Strait as at 4 December 2018 is as follows:
Members and clients trading to Ukraine and the Azov Sea should also be aware that ports in the region may raise their security levels at short notice and are advised to check with local agents and correspondents for the latest information.
As of today, the escalation of the conflict between the Ukraine and Russia has not resulted in any changes in the sanction regimes determined by the United Nations, the United States or the European Union against Russia as a result of the Crimea conflict and the conflict with Ukraine in general.
As to other operational aspects, please be aware that delay caused by the situation as outlined above, may be an issue between the owner and the charterer under the relevant charterparty. Members are encouraged to examine the terms of the relevant charterparty before the ship enters geographical areas affected by the conflict. Just as an introductory guidance the following high-level observations can be made:
As to insurance matters in general, there may be questions as to whether a claim has been caused by a ‘sea peril’ or ‘war peril’. As a starting point, claims arising out of incidents having occurred when ships are calling the relevant areas will be ordinary marine claims falling within the ordinary P&I and hull covers. The fact that Martial Law has been declared in certain areas in the Ukraine does not in itself make a change. On the other hand, if for example a merchant ship had been in direct contact with a navy ship while the latter was directly involved in the conflict, we may have been faced with a possible warlike situation. This must be considered on a case by case basis in each individual case.
We are grateful to Gard’s correspondents Legat Co. Ltd. and Pandi Services East Ltd., as well as to Dias Marine Consultancy, for their contribution to this alert.