Jakob Paaske Larsen
Head of Maritime Safety & Security
- (+45) 4436 6844
On 22 July 2022, Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations signed the Initiative on the safe export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports. The purpose of this Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia from the Ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) (the Ukrainian ports).
The initiation of exports from Ukraine-controlled ports is a welcome development but there is no question that the resumption of shipping operations is a high-risk endeavour. While both Russia and Ukraine have publicly promised not to attack ships involved in the initiative, there have been several sightings of mine-like objects in the area, and the risk of a rogue mine detonating against a ship is still present. Add to this that the perceived mine threat provides for plausible deniability for any malign actor with a motive to disrupt global food supplies, especially by means of underwater weapons such as limpet mines or torpedoes. The resultant security situation amounts to something which by any measure will be a high-risk operation.
Ships getting involved in this initiative are encouraged to perform a voyage-specific risk assessment and consider the relevant self-protection measures described in chapter 4 incl. annexes in the NATO publication Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) – Guide to Owners, Operators, Masters and Officers.
It should be noted that the NATO procedures for passage coordination etc. described in this NATO publication DO NOT apply to this scenario. Instead, the procedures outlined in the specific guidance developed by Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine together with the United Nations should be applied. However, the section in the NATO publication about how to mitigate against underwater threats (mines, submarines, underwater sabotage) would seem particularly relevant to the scenario ships are faced with when participating in the described initiative.
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