Russian warships hit Philippine merchant ships

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THREE merchant ships piloted by Filipinos were hit by Russian ships, which were deployed during the invasion of Ukraine.

The Yasa Jupiter, flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, with 11 Filipino crew members, was hit by artillery about 80 km south of Odessa. He was heading for Romania, Turkish NTV reported on February 24.

The Philippine Embassy in Ankara and the Philippine Consulate General in Istanbul said all crew members were safe.

Meanwhile, Russian warships shelled a Moldovan-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship near the Black Sea port of Odessa also on Friday.

Yevgen Lisuchenko, deputy permanent representative of Ukraine to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said the chemical tanker Millennial Spirit, flying the Moldovan flag and built in 1974 with a capacity of 2,200 dwt, was also hit. .

A Russian navy vessel fired on the tanker about 12 nautical miles south of Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Yuzhniy on Friday afternoon. The chemical tanker was disabled and had been drifting ever since.

A spokesman for the Naval Agency of Moldova said two crew members of the tanker were seriously injured in the incident and Ukrainian authorities were trying to rescue them.

The 2020-built Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Namura Queen with a capacity of 85,065 dwt, also believed to be flown by Filipinos, was hit by a missile in the eastern Ukrainian port of Pivdenny (Yuzhny) from Odessa. A man on board was reportedly injured.

Japanese shipping company Nissen Kaiun Co, which owns the bulk carrier, could not be reached for comment, according to the reports.

In Manila, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said it was verifying the incidents.

Meanwhile, Philippine officials in Ankara and Istanbul are jointly coordinating with Yasa Holding, the Turkish owner of the Marshall Islands-flagged ship.

According to Yasa’s staff relations manager, the ship was on its way back to Turkey and was due to arrive at a shipyard in Yalova, a province south of Istanbul, on February 25.

The DFA said the Philippine Embassy and Consulate General continue to coordinate with Yasa for any assistance that may be given to the Filipino crew.

Cristina Garcia, president of the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA), said the recruiting agent who deployed the 11 Filipino crews of the Yasa Jupiter asked for clearance before speaking to members of the press about the status of the Filipinos.

Garcia said the company, a member of his group, had been “instructed by the shipowner to avoid the media at this time”.

“What they can assure us is that the entire crew is safe and families have been contacted to update them on the situation on board,” Garcia said.

Another ALMA executive, lawyer Iris Baguilat, president of DöhleSeafront Crewing (Manila), said standard operating procedure for shipping companies is not to make the status of crew involved in an incident public.

She said some news can be “very newsworthy, but often hurtful to families”, which is why companies are being very cautious.

Russia invaded Ukraine late last week, prompting global condemnation. The United States and its allies quickly imposed economic sanctions and demanded the withdrawal of its troops.

A dozen people were killed and 100,000 fled their homes.

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