Boers Crew Services (BCS) of the Netherlands has revealed how it managed to get a Russian crew back home while at the same time evacuating a Ukrainian refugee family.

The crewing support company told TradeWinds it recently transferred 12 Russian seafarers to Russia via Poland, after they had signed off their vessel in Belgium.

They were dropped off at the Ukrainian border for onward passage to Russia after a voyage through Germany by bus.

On the return trip, BCS brought back the Ukrainian family of a seafarer employed by one of its Dutch shipowning clients.

They were taken from Gdansk to Germany, where they are still living in the summer home of the Dutch shipowner.

“It’s not just crews that are given safe passage,” BCS said.

“The shipowners took on the responsibility of taking care of the families of the Ukrainian crew.”

Russian and Ukrainian crews have been sharing transport buses without issues, the agency said.

This highlights “unity despite [the] political situation and shortages”, BCS added.

Situation has changed

Russians make up 10% of the global seafaring workforce and Ukrainians about 4%.

But the situation has now changed for Russian crew members.

No visas are currently being issued should their current documents expire within a Schengen country in Europe.

If a Russian crew member wants to return home, visas can be issued only via the UK or Turkey outside the Schengen region.

The exception is if seafarers are already in possession of a Schengen visa in their passport.

“Many Russian seafarers are trying to extend their contracts to avoid travelling back home. The problem is, once they do return home, they will be unable to leave again because of the complications they will face applying for a new visa, which in turn means they will lose their job,” BCS said.

“Once their visa has expired, they cannot replace it with a new one, so by extending their contract, they keep their job, are awarded a bonus, and meanwhile, the shipowners save money on crew changes.”