• NMA maintains MARSEC/ISPS-level 3 in the northern and western part of the Black Sea and in the Sea of Azov.

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The Black Sea Grain Initiative

On 17 July 2023 Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI). Following the withdrawal Russia announced that any ships travelling to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports will be viewed by the Russian military as possibly carrying military cargo, meaning that they will be legitimate military targets. After refusing to extend the BSGI, Russia has also systematically attacked port and grain infrastructure in several Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

Mitigation Measures

  • •South of the designated areas, all masters and CSOs are recommended to carefully monitor the situation and consider necessary measures from the SSP.
  •  Masters are advised to closely monitor deviations and failures of navigation and communication data due to disturbances
  • •Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the situation in the affected area may change. Ship owners and masters are encouraged to follow the development through reliable sources.
  • NMA will continuously monitor the situation and give updates on any relevant changes. 
  • In the event of vessels experiencing security incidents or suspicious activity, follow internal procedures of reporting. It can also be considered to contact the NATO Shipping Centre.

Security Situation

The overall security situation in the Black Sea area remains dominated by the ongoing war in Ukraine and ongoing military operations in the area. Russian naval forces have blockaded the northwestern area of the Black Sea. All Ukrainian ports are closed for commercial operations. The Sea of Azov is closed to civilian maritime traffic, likely enforced by Russian naval forces at the Kerch Strait. All maritime operations are prohibited, and vessels operating within this area will most likely be regarded as a hostile threat by Russian naval forces.

Merchant vessels operating in the Black Sea may experience inspections and harassment as part of Russian stated intent of exercising control over vessels operating in the area. It is however currently unlikely that Russia will deliberately attack merchant vessels that are not carrying military equipment to Ukraine, although that cannot be ruled out.

Ukraine has demonstrated that they have military capabilities to attack Russian naval assets in the entire Black Sea, as well as Russian ports and infrastructure. Although Ukraine will not risk undermining Western support and will try to refrain from hitting Western merchant vessels, there is a possibility of collateral damage for vessels operating in the vicinity of ongoing military activities. That also includes the north-eastern part of the Black Sea.

There are reports of drifting sea mines in the entire western Black Sea which may pose a risk to merchant vessels operating in the area. The threat from drifting sea mines is expected to persist until the situation allows for conducting larger mine-clearing operations.

NMA’s assessment of the security situation in the Black Sea is that there is a significant risk for all merchant vessels that operate in these waters. The NMA maintains therefore the current security level.