The Sea of Azov is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea. Credit: Dietmar Hasenpusch 5053767
Ukraine will invest USD191 million to improve the safety of shipping in the Azov-Black Sea Basin with the purchase of new rescue, coastal guard, and other auxiliary vessels over the next five years.
This is believed to be the largest auxiliary fleet renewal since the country’s independence in 1991, the Administration of Ukraine’s Sea Port (AUSP) website suggested, noting that most of its operating vessels have been in service for several decades and have fairly high levels of deterioration.
Yulia July, spokesperson for AUSP, said the funding will go to replacing the icebreaker Captain Belousov, built in 1954, and trash collecting vessels built between 1971 and 1999.
AUSP must also increase the dredging fleet to keep sufficient depths in the water areas of the ports, said July. “The fleet of icebreakers will also be expanded in order to ensure safe winter navigation in the country’s sea ports,” she added.
In total, AUSP plans to purchase 20 new vessels, in each case through the “most transparent competitive bidding procedures”, July said. It is expected that AUSP will invest in fleet modernisation using existing and borrowed funds, including those provided by an unnamed international financial organisation.
Ukraine reportedly has severe problems with shipping safety and was recently ranked 61st in the Paris MoU 2017 Grey List. Paris MoU held 129 inspections in Ukraine between 2014 and 2016 with 14 detentions during this time.
Out of 27 inspections performed in the country in 2016, 25 were reported to have deficiencies, which was one of the highest rates in Europe. Paris MoU, however, did not name the specific problems, but according to the recent reports of the governmental agencies, these problems included the operation of “sub-standard ships and poor safety infrastructure at the country’s sea ports”.
Ukraine’s Transport Security Agency, in the meantime, has repeatedly highlighted the numerous problems associated with the safety of shipping in the country’s waters. It promised to enhance inspections, admitting, however, that the country’s legislation is still “far from perfect”, and prevents governmental agencies from solving most of the existing problems.