On 22 July 2022, the United Nations, the Russian Federation, Türkiye and Ukraine agreed the Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Other Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports (Black Sea Grain Initiative). The Initiative is based on agreements of parties of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended, (SOLAS), Regulation XI-2/11 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, Part B, paragraph 4.26.

The purpose of the Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers from the Ukrainian ports Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi). The Initiative only runs for 120 days from the date of signing, but the parties may sign a renewed agreement.

A Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) has been established in Istanbul, Türkiye, to conduct general oversight and coordination of the Initiative to establish a humanitarian maritime corridor to allow ships to export grain and related foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine. All relevant information is gathered here: Black Sea Grain Initiative | Background | United Nations.

According to the agreement, vessels participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative must follow all standing procedures coordinated by the JCC to gain the necessary status within the Initiative. It has been stated that the procedures might be subject to change. All security arrangements and procedures, aimed at minimising security risks when operating under this Initiative, remain with the JCC and vessels that officially participate.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) urges Norwegian-flagged ships intending to participate in the Initiative to carefully consider residual risks while the war continues. There are still serious security threats on land, in the air and at sea. GPS and communication technologies have been subject to spoofing and jamming, limiting communication and precise navigation in the area. This threat remains. There is also a risk of misunderstandings, unintended actions and merchant shipping being subject to collateral damage from military actions while operating in the north-western Black Sea. As recent as 31 July 2022, drifting/floating sea mines have been neutralized in the western Black Sea and pose an unpredictable security risk to any vessel navigating in these areas.

Section 9-5 Right to leave service of the Act of 21 June 2013 No. 102 relating to employment protection, etc. for employees on board ships (Ship Labour Act) entitles a person working on board to leave service on board if there is war or war-like conditions in waters in which the ship shall sail or in a port for which the ship is bound.

The NMA must be informed as early as possible when a shipping company intends to engage ships from their fleet in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The NMA must also be notified when ships routeing under this Initiative enter the Turkish inspection Area for inpection in accordance with the JCC procedures. The notifications should be submitted to the NMA (post@sdir.no) and the Contingency Planning Department at the Norwegian Shipowners' Association (beredskap@rederi.no).

The applicable MARSEC level for the Norwegian-flagged vessels in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea remains at MARSEC Level 3.

Visit the NMA's website for more details: The Black Sea and the Sea of Azov - Norwegian Maritime Authority.