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Container Feeder Service Restored Between Ukraine and Romania

containership departing Odesa
One container ship, the Hong Kong-flagged Joseph Schulte was able to escape Odesa last year but other service was suspended (Alexander Kubrakov/Facebook)

Published Apr 5, 2024 12:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Ukraine has restarted an additional container service establishing a feeder operation between the port of Chornomorsk and Constanta, Romania. It marks the first container service on the Black Sea since the invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago and expands on a limited service along the Danube.

The first step in the restoration began with a 5,800 dwt general cargo ship that is reportedly being operated under charter by a Turkish freight forwarder. The vessel, the T Mare registered in Panama departed the Greater Odesa area for an expected 20-hour trip along the coast to Romania. 

The vessel is expected to carry approximately 370 containers. The first pictures showed boxes mostly from Maersk, which has been operating an overland by rail and Danube container service since 2023. There were also CMA CGM boxes aboard.

 

 

Last month discussing the plans for the resumption of container service, government officials highlighted that resuming the shipments would aid farmers who are expected to load small batches of grain into containers. It is expected to also help with importing equipment, machinery, and spare parts. 

Government officials said that all the container ports and terminals which have been closed were now ready to resume operations. The hope is that the first ship will prove the reliability of the route and encourage additional shippers to begin sending containers via the Black Sea. Plans are underway for possibly chartering a second ship for feeder service. A government minister predicted the service could add 20 percent to the volume of transportation.

With the support of the West and the London insurance community, Ukraine was able to establish expanded coverage for shipping. They highlighted last month that the monies were in place and the program established with the expanded coverage for containerships. Similar steps have previously helped to build back the bulker volume to the Black Sea ports.

Most of the exports to date are agricultural products which accounted for 60 percent or more of the volume. At the end of March, Vice Prime Minister for the Restoration of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov reported that the volume along the corridor established last summer has now exceeded the year of the Black Sea Corridor initiative with the United Nations.  

In the seven months since the corridor was opened, Kubrakov reported that 1,140 vessels had made the Black Sea transit to Ukraine. A total of 33.8 million tons of goods had been exported to 40 countries, of which 23.1 million tons were agricultural products. The remainder of the volume is mostly ore and metals as well as fertilizer imports.