Moves are again afoot to allow some Ukrainian seafarers to leave the country despite the continuing conflict.

Germany’s Danica Crewing Specialists said new proposals are under consideration at government level to let crew members leave if they are employed by a domestic company and their taxes are retained in Ukraine.

It was reported that 76,000 Ukrainians were employed as seafarers when the war broke out.

Just over 30,000 of them were at home and their age meant virtually all were required to be available to the Ukrainian army.

A law remains in place barring men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving Ukraine.

A previous proposal to grant exceptions for seafarers was finally turned down by president Zelenskyy, who decided that all Ukrainian citizens must help defend the country.

But a similar exemption was granted for truck drivers, provided they continue to benefit the domestic economy, Danica said.

This prompted a renewed effort to have the same conditions applied to the maritime sector.

“Although it will require a bit of paperwork for each seafarer joining, we are already ready with a system in Danica where the seafarers are employed with our company in Ukraine and then leased out to our vessels, and with Danica liable for paying their taxes in Ukraine,” Danica managing director Henrik Jensen added.

“We are frequently in contact with the stranded seafarers in Ukraine and they all report their readiness to join as soon as it is legal to leave the country,” he said.

New Georgian base

Danica has also opened a new office in Batumi, Georgia, to give it access to an even larger pool of competent officers and seafarers.

With a population of more than 3.7m, Georgia is a small country in the south-eastern corner of Europe which is home to some 10,000 officers and the same number of ratings.

Batumi is the key seafarer hub, while the capital city of Tbilisi also offers a seafaring community.

“In addition to recruiting, vetting and supplying Georgian crew, our new office will act as a point of contact for the many Ukrainian seafarers who are now based in the country,” Jensen said.

The Georgian office is headed by Captain Raul Beridze, a Georgian citizen who had a successful career at sea, culminating in the command of bulk carriers.

He came ashore in 2018 to found a manning agency which has now been merged into the Danica Group.

Working alongside him, the Danica Batumi team consists of three experienced crewing officers.