Wreckage of a Russian military aircraft | AFP
Mumbai: As many as 21 Indian sailors on board a merchant ship are stuck for quite some time at the Port of Mykolaiv in war-hit Ukraine but all of them are “safe” and in "regular contact" with their families and the ship manning agency, according to the agency founder and CEO Sanjay Prashar.
Prashar said that 24 other ships are also docked at the port and have Indian sailors onboard as well. MV Maritime (the ship manning agency) is watchful of the developments and keeping all authorities concerned in the loop including the External Affairs Ministry, the Indian Embassy and sector regulator Director General of Shipping, he said.
DG Shipping Amitabh Kumar was not available for comments. The crew has not come out of the vessel since the war broke out between Russia and Ukraine late last month and a strict vigil is being maintained on the ship, Prashar said.
"Presently the vessel is berthed at Port Mykolaiv itself. There are a total of 25 ships, including ours. There are other ships which have got Indian seafarers. As far as our ship is concerned, both the crew and ship are presently safe.
"The internet and satellite communication onboard are working. We are at present in touch with all the crew and their families. Also, the crew themselves are also in direct touch with their family members," Prashar told media.
He said that as per information available with the company, the Port is not working and the "Russian forces probably are very close to the Port on the Black Sea coast", he said.
"If the Russian forces come into the Port and they allow couple of ships to leave then it is fine. Otherwise, we would need some assistance from the port authority, including some tug boats and
Prashar said in an emergency, if the company have to evacuate its crew, the nearest Poland border is 900 km far and going to some safe location in Kyiv would mean a travel of 500 km from the port city, adding "so for them to reach any of these two places right now is not possible."
"We are very watchful. So, instead of staying in a bunker or inside Ukraine anywhere else, the expert and the Master judgement is better stay on board," he added.
Nevertheless, the company is submitting a status report to the Indian Embassy every day, he stated.
He also said there are a couple of other agencies that are involved in this issue such as the International Water Transport Federation (IWTF) and the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI).
According to IWTF Executive Board Member and NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Serang, his association is in constant touch with its Ukrainian counterpart over the issue. PTI