On 22 July 2022 the republic of Türkiye, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United Nations signed the Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Other Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports (The 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 Code (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, Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi). The Initiative has a duration of 120 days from its inception, before renewed agreement from the parties is needed.

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 can be found at: 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 minimizing security risks when operating under this Initiative, remain with the JCC and vessels that officially participate.

The Norwegian Maritime Authorities, NMA, urge Norwegian flagged ships which intend to participate in the initiative to carefully consider residual risks while the war continues. Serious security risks on land, from the air and the maritime domain remain. GPS and communication have been subject to spoofing and disruption, limiting communication and precise navigation in the area. This threat remains. There is also risk of misunderstandings, unintended actions and merchant shipping being afflicted of collateral damage from military actions while operating in the North-Western Black Sea. Drifting/floating sea mines have been neutralized in the Western Black Sea, as recent as 31 July 2022. These bring unpredictable security risks to any vessels navigating in these areas.

In this aspect, the NMA will also make a reference to the Act of 21 June 2013 No. 102 relating to employment protection, etc. for employees on board ships (Ship Labour Act) Section 9-5 Right to leave service which entitle 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.

Norwegian Authorities shall be informed as early as possible when a managing company of a ship intend to engage ships from their fleet in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The NMA shall also be noted when the ships routing under the initiative enters the Turkish inspection Area for control in accordance with the JCC procedures. The notifications should be sent to the NMA: post@sdir.no and The contingency planning department at the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association: beredskap@rederi.no.

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

See our website for more details: The Black Sea and the Sea of Azov - Norwegian Maritime Authority (sdir.no)