Nautilus International has confirmed that the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has verified that “seafarers are not within scope of the sanctions regulations that the UK government is applying to Russian superyachts.” The trade union shared a press release on April 21 following concerns raised by crew.
The Russian sanctions (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No.7) regulations came into force on March 30, and since there have been a number of vessels sanctioned under the regulations. This caused some concern about whether these sanctions might lead to prosecution of crew and seafarers working aboard yachts with Russian owners.
UK legislation currently “prohibit[s] the provision of ‘technical assistance’ to vessels connected with Russia except in circumstances where failure to provide such assistance would cause danger to life or to the vessel,” the release said. While the Russian yachts are covered by the legislation, crew are outside the intended scope and are able to work on board without fear of prosecution from the UK.
“We are very pleased to have received this clarification from the [UK] Department for Transport, which has been a matter of serious concern for our members,” Nautilus International Head of Yacht Sector Derek Byrne said in the press release.
While it’s good news from the UK, Laura Molineux, Strategic Organiser at Nautilus International, noted that “to date, we have not been made aware of other nations prohibiting crew’s employment on superyachts, though we are wary that sanctions can be subject to change at short notice and expanded.” She clarified that “Nautilus strongly campaigns against the criminalization of seafarers.”
Prosecution may not be a concern, but there are still other potential issues for crew. “Delayed and withheld payments continue to be a major issue for crew on sanctioned vessels,” said Molineux. “Even those that are owned by or with links to Russian individuals not sanctioned to date have encountered problems with fund transfers as banks and financial organizations are wary of breaching potential sanctions and have increased their compliance checks.”
Molineux also reminded crew that they could also experience issues with provisions, equipment, and fuel being supplied to these vessels. Furthermore, “Some yachts have lost their class and are required to secure this, along with new insurance and potentially a transfer of flag registration, which is seemingly not a straightforward process,” Molineux said. “Many yachts are still in what is being referred to as ‘safe havens,’ but the question is how long can this situation continue whilst maintaining the safety of the crew and vessels?”