Protecting Loved Ones & the Supply Chain in Ukraine

The mood across the globe at Spire today is somber, and for some, it is even more stressful as they worry about their loved ones in Ukraine. Two weeks ago, one of my colleagues from Ukraine described the pain and heartbreak of a family at war with each other; in that situation, everyone loses. Now many of those loved ones are at risk.

Our mission at Spire is to use data from space to make life better on earth. To that end, we are analyzing and sharing our ship tracking, aviation, and other data with the hope that this information can help in some way, shape or form. The ships and planes we track are simply a means to an end. What matters most are people and their safety, health, and well-being. With that in mind, please donate to UNICEF, as the organization is scaling up their aid to children and families in Ukraine. UNICEF received the highest ratings for accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator with a program expense ratio of 88.4%. For every dollar spent, 88 cents goes directly toward helping children. There are also other reputable charities stepping up their efforts to provide aid to Ukraine.

Ukranian woman holding child

Natalia, 45, holding one of her six children, was already living in fear before attacks escalated on Feb. 24. The family lives in an apartment in a partially destroyed high-rise building within miles of the ‘contact line’ — living under constant threat of shelling and landmines, lack of heating and hot water and a fight for education for the past eight years. © UNICEF/UN0597340/Filippov

Forget About the Supply Chain, Ukraine’s Food Supply Secured

Ukraine is the number three exporter of wheat and number four for grain. On February 24, 2022 Ukraine’s military suspended commercial shipping at its ports to protect their food supply. While many of the news outlets have focused on the impact on wheat prices and the global supply chain, it is important to recognize that, above all, this helps secure a food supply for the people of Ukraine.

Every ship has an identifier called a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) and below you can see the dramatic drop off in activity from Ukraine’s major ports.

Ukraine ports hourly MMSI data

Military Moves

Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdogan has good relationships with both Ukraine and Russia, and has offered to mediate and support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Ukraine also recently asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships; Turkey is evaluating the request. Our data also shows a reduction in ship traffic through the Strait of Bosphorus. Bosphorus is a narrow passage that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

Spire vessel tracker map

It is also interesting to note that our Ship Tracker shows 20 military ships in the Baltic Sea on Feb 17 and 27 ships on Feb 23, but that number went down to three on February 24, which could indicate they went dark by turning off their AIS tracking. Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a global standard for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and shore-to-ship communications and contributes to collision avoidance, search and rescue operations, and maritime domain awareness through vessel tracking.

Looking at overall ship movements since Feb 14th, you can see the overall slowdown in shipping activity.

As the events unfold, we will continue to provide information we uncover. If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out to us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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