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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Ban of Russian ships in EU ports: Everything you need to know

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The EU’s fifth package of sanctions against Russia included a prohibition on Russian flagged ships entering EU ports after 16 April 2022. Under this light, the West P&I Club provides further information on the matter.

Q1. How is the port access ban monitored?

The monitoring will be done via the Union Maritime Information and Exchange System (which also links to EQUASIS, a public database providing, among other, safety related information on ships and companies). This system supports EU Member States with operational maritime surveillance capabilities in particular by providing the situational maritime awareness picture, tracking any ship movements in near real time. All EU Member States have access to this system and share information via this system.

Q2. How to address a ship transporting goods the transport of which may be authorised?

The derogations provided for in Article 3ea(5) are subject to prior authorisation from the relevant national competent authority, which can only be granted under strict and specific conditions. If a ship falling under the scope of the prohibition and carrying goods the transport of which may justify an authorisation to access a port requests access to a port in the Union, it is the responsibility of the port authorities to make a case-by-case assessment and supervise that the unloading concerns only goods falling under the derogations and that their unloading is not otherwise prohibited by the Regulation.

Q3. Under the derogations in Article 3ea, how should goods be loaded and unloaded?

Where a vessel has been authorised to call on a port in order to unload goods subject to a derogation, it must obtain a separate authorisation in order to load goods. A cargo-free vessel may be authorised to call on a port in order to load goods.

The loading of goods is limited to what is allowed under the derogations. Article 3ea, points (a) and (e) refer explicitly to the purchase, import or transport into the Union. Accordingly, loading of goods would only be possible if there is a purchase or further transport into another Union port as final destination. It remains to be determined why a Russian-flagged vessel would provide transport services between two EU ports in such a case. Points (b) and (d) allow for an entry into port whether the purchase, import or transport is for the Union or to a third country.

Q4. Can a Russian flagged vessel which entered an EU port under the exemption in paragraph 4 be authorised to leave?

The national competent authority must ascertain that the ship is entering under the conditions deemed necessary for in paragraph 4. The port access ban does not require blocking a ship which would have entered in accordance with this exemption, hence it may leave the port.

Q5. Can a Russian flagged ship which changes both ownership and flag after the 24 February trade on EU ports?

Article 3ea covers all Russian flagged vessels, as well as vessels that change their Russian flag or their registration, to the flag or register of any other State after 24 February 2022. This prohibition applies irrespective of the ownership of the ship.

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