Cosulich Bulker Stranded in Mariupol for Nine Months is Freed

Bulker departs Mariupol
Tzarvena was trapped in Mariupol since the start of the war (Twitter)

Published Nov 10, 2022 3:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Italian shipping company Fratelli Cosulich is reporting that it was successful in recovering one of its bulk carriers that had been trapped in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for nearly nine months. The vessel departed the war-torn city controlled by separatists loyal to Russia despite threats that the ship along with its cargo would be nationalized by the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk.

The 18-year-old bulk carrier Tzarevna had arrived in Mariupol before the outbreak of the war to load a cargo of steel plate. The cargo was produced by Metinvest's massive Azovstal plant, which was destroyed (along with most of Mariupol) during the Russian siege of the city. The vessel, which had a crew of 20 aboard had been scheduled to depart for the Italian port of Monfalcone where the semi-finished steel would have been delivered to the San Giorgio di Nogaro mills.

Blocked by the closing of the port and the later assault on Mariupol, the 21,470 dwt bulker registered in Malta remained trapped at the dock. After the city fell, videos of the docks showed the vessel with damage from the shelling including a crack in its hull. The company was successful in repatriating 15 of the crewmembers while five remained aboard the vessel.

At the end of May, the separatist People's Republic of Donetsk announced its intentions to seize the vessels that remained in Mariupol and nationalize them along with their cargo. There were reports that the Russians were seizing the steel and shipping it to Russian ports.

Shipowner Augusto Cosulich appealed to both Malta and Italy for assistance. Cosulich told the Italian media that the vessel was worth $9 million and that the cargo aboard was worth $12 million. The prime minister of Malta agreed to issue a formal protest in Moscow as the vessel is registered in Malta. In June, TASS reported the vessel would be freed after payment was received for "port services."

Fratelli Cosulich issued a brief statement reporting “our ship Tzarvena has sailed from the port of Mariupol where it was stuck since February 24.” The company did not offer any details on how it was able to recover the vessel but noted that with the reopening of the airport it was possible to get a crew to the ship. They did however say that the cargo of 12,000 steel plates was offloaded before departure.

The vessel’s AIS signal shows that it departed on November 9 and was successful in crossing the Sea of Azov. The Tzarvena is currently anchored near Kerch at the entrance to the Black Sea. Fratelli Cosulich is reporting that the ship will proceed to Varna, Bulgaria where she will undergo repairs from the damage suffered during the bombing of the city.