Is It Real For A Ukrainian Sailor To Go Home Now? — Maritime Lawyer Answers

There are many questions from sailors and requests for advice on how to get home as soon as possible from the steamers, because the companies do not release them under any pretext. How, after all, in such conditions, to write off a sailor?
Ukrainian sailors, who now work on ships around the world, are eager to go home: they are ready to terminate contracts, leave without pay and at their own expense, but HOME, to support their country and their families, in this terrible, difficult and cruel period of war.

Maritime lawyer Nikolay Golbin reports that he has received many questions from sailors and their families about how to write off letters and get home at such a difficult time for everyone.
The lawyer states that the Ukrainian sailors, who are now on a voyage, are divided into 4 camps:

  • Camp 1: those sailors who are rushing home to their families and are looking for any way to return.

  • Camp 2: they understand the situation in the country and decided to wait and work on. Many agree to contract extensions.

  • Camp 3: they want to work, but categorically refuse to enter the ports of the Russian Federation, to be under the control of Russian companies.

  • Camp 4: they want to go back and take up arms.

Companies also broke into camps:

  • Camp 1: some companies, understanding the situation, release seafarers ahead of the contract expiration dates, having previously relieved themselves of the responsibility for repatriation home. Only to the border of Ukraine.

  • Camp 2. Some companies take a categorical decision and refuse to write off, even if the contract ends. Motivate - inconvenient ports or there is no way to find a replacement.

How, after all, in such conditions, to write off a sailor?
There are many questions from sailors and requests for advice on how to get home as soon as possible from the steamers, because the companies do not release them under any pretext. Maritime lawyer Nikolai Golbin answers the most common of them:

Question from a sailor: I want to terminate the contract and go home, the company refuses. Why?

Maritime lawyer: There are practically no chances for write-off, even at your own expense. The company is at great risk if they send a sailor home. Especially in the companies that everyone is talking about, there is already an unspoken ban on writing off Ukrainian sailors home and recommend keeping them on board as long as possible. In addition, if shipowners staff exclusively with Ukrainian crews, then it is unrealistic to make replacements.

Question of a sailor: What risks does the company take and why does it refuse?

Maritime lawyer: A sailor is insured not only on board, but also on the way home. This is IMPORTANT to know! And while there is no guarantee that the sailor will return home safe and sound, the financial responsibility lies entirely with the company. There is a war going on in Ukraine now, which means the company will not take risks.

Question of a sailor: How to be in such a situation?

Maritime lawyer: One option is to write a statement that the sailor takes all the risks that may happen to him on the way home, and releases the company from liability (insurance payments in the future if something happens).

The second option is to put pressure on the humanity of the company and ask them to get into a position in a good way. But here, you understand, not every shipowner will agree to this. Nothing more can be done. Ask, strike, threaten - the decision is still up to the company!

Question from a sailor: Your wife did not receive your salary on the card. Why?

Maritime lawyer: Many companies have decided to suspend the payment of seafarers' wages to Ukrainian bank accounts. War.

They offer an alternative - cash or transfer to any sailor's account in any bank in any other country except Russia.

Question from a sailor: How to get home?

Maritime Lawyer: The sky is closed, the ports are closed. You can get only exclusively through Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Poland.

Maritime lawyer advice:

  • Write an application for cancellation in the name of the captain. In it, justify a difficult psychological state, stress, worries about loved ones and the inability to perform their duties properly because of this. In addition, it is important to point out that your condition may endanger the safety of navigation and harm the company, the crew, and you personally. Also, study contracts. Many agreements provide for the possibility of writing off in case of unforeseen circumstances or in case of problems with the family. Then the norms of the MLC-2006 Convention are included, and remember - no one canceled Safety First!

  • Review the minimum crew requirements for your vessel. Whether you fall or not.

  • Refusal to perform their duties. I do not always welcome this, but in the current realities, this method can be effective.

  • Complaint to PSC/ITF/Flag/P&I - with reference to point #1.

  • If we are talking about the entire crew or most of it - the threat of a strike on the ship or the strike itself. About 15 years ago, with the help of strikes, sailors could solve any problems with salary debts. It is possible that it will work here as well. But don't forget the consequences of strikes! From the position of the company, this is blackmail and it is not legal!

Read more about Helping people from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in the military crisis
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