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War in Ukraine: Seafarers & Families

Support for Ukrainian Cadets

The Ukraine Cadet Project is a joint initiative of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and the Marine Transport Workers’ Union of Ukraine (MTWTU), working together with Kherson State Maritime Academy (KSMA) and the Lithuanian Maritime Academy. The project is providing support for 50 Ukrainian cadets from the Kherson State Maritime Academy to complete their maritime studies and obtain Lithuanian and Ukrainian certificates of competency. A second stage will provide financial assistance for 20 students at the maritime academy in Odessa.

The protracted hostilities have significantly impacted merchant shipping and the world's economy. Martial law, imposed in Ukraine from February 24, 2022, has, until now, prevented Ukrainian seafarers from joining vessels and had a dramatic effect on the crewing of ships. In addition, thousands of cadets in maritime educational institutions have been unable to complete their courses and obtain working diplomas, without seagoing experience.

Kherson State Maritime Academy is one of the leading maritime educational institutions in Ukraine, it has felt the devastating effects of the war at first hand. Since mid-March, the Kherson region has been under the control of the occupying authorities and is now the focus of a counteroffensive. The academy’s premises and facilities, built up over years with the support of the MTWTU and the maritime industry, were also occupied. Nevertheless, the academy’s administration managed to establish a form of distance learning.

The MTWTU and the ITF Seafarers’ Trust have been working closely together to support seafarers and their families since the start of the conflict and decided to turn their attention to the plight of the cadets. The cadets will be enrolled into the Lithuanian Maritime Academy in Klaipeda; with the main goal to ensure that they receive both theoretical and practical knowledge in a safe and fulfilling manner. Facilities exist for KSMA to provide some modules of training remotely.

The project supports cadets who have completed their third year but have been unable to complete their studies and get their certification. Cadets will receive financial support for academic studies, accommodation and subsistence in Lithuania and help with finding placements.

The first 20 students are now in Klaipeda, the rest are in the process of securing the necessary paperwork from the military offices in Ukraine.

Ukrainian seafarer cadets, Katie Higginbottom (ITFST) and Oleg Grygoriuk (MTWTU) sit around a board table smiling at the camera.

Ukraine Seafarers' Families Humanitarian Transport Project

The Ukraine Seafarers Humanitarian Transport Project is currently suspended due to the current lack of need.

The Ukraine Seafarers' Families Humanitarian Transport Project is a joint humanitarian initiative between the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, ITF, Marine Transport Workers Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) and V-Group, focused on helping to support the families of Ukrainian seafarers who wish to leave the conflict in Ukraine. Many seafarers and their families live around port regions such as Mariupol and Odesa, which have been particularly affected by the conflict or are active war zones.  

Hundreds of people seeking refuge from the conflict in Ukraine have been supported to reach safety.  

The project currently provides bus transport from Odesa to Romania where a week’s worth of accommodation, meals and support with organising onward journeys is provided. 

Taras (m), a seafarer: “Thank you! It was really difficult to get to Odesa from Kherson: my wife and son were waiting for the end of the attacks as they were at the epicentre. But thank God they are alive and okay, and now they are in a safe place thanks to you. A low bow to you and sincere gratitude!”  

The initiative is open to all Ukrainian seafarers’ families regardless of union affiliation or employer. Seafarers/families interested in using the project can register with MTWTU here  

Yulia (f), a seafarer’s sister: “We sincerely thank the MTWTU for their support and the opportunity of evacuation - soon we will be safe. Sadly, we are leaving our home. Now, your care is invaluable to us." 

The project is coordinated by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust. Initial funding of $200,000 was provided by the ITF to kickstart the initiative and the ITF is coordinating with affiliated unions in the region. In Ukraine, the MTWTU is managing registration and support to families wishing to use the project and making travel arrangements. V-group are coordinating logistics on arrival outside of Ukraine.

(Quotes from seafarers and their family members are English translations. Efforts have been made to avoid any change in meaning.) 


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