Greek Bulker Hits Mine off Ukraine Injuring Captain and Crewmember
A Greek-owned bulker inbound to Ukraine to load a cargo of grain struck a mine on Wednesday, December 27. The captain and one crewmember were reported injured in the latest incident in the Black Sea.
The vessel is being identified as the Vyssos, a smaller bulker built in 2007 owned by a Greek shipping company and registered in Panama. The 8,758 dwt vessel, which is 366 feet (112 meters in length), was heading to one of Ukraine’s ports along the Danube after holding in the anchorage off Sulina, Romania. Her AIS signal shows she was coming from Italy.
The mine is believed to have explored near the stern of the vessel causing it to initially blackout and lose navigational control. Ambrey is reporting the explosion took place approximately 80 miles southwest of Chornomorsk, Ukraine.
“The ship lost direction and control and caught fire on the upper deck,” the State Border Service of Ukraine wrote in a social media posting.
The vessel reportedly was able to restore some control and the captain maneuvered the bulker, either anchoring it in shallow water or purposefully grounding it on a breakwater depending on the media report. Ukrainian officials said assistance was sent to the vessel and that tugs helped to maneuver it later to port.
Medical team and Coast Guard from Ukraine provided assistance
A medical team from Ukraine boarded the Vyssos and provided assistance. According to the information, the captain suffered minor injuries and was treated on the ship. An Egyptian crewmember thought to be the cook suffered a head injury and was taken to a hospital in Ismail where he is reported to doing well. The Greek media says there is a total of 18 crew aboard, including three Ukrainians, two Turks, and 13 Egyptians.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Oleksandr Kubrakov earlier in December highlighted the ongoing success of the grain export efforts. He said since starting the corridor in August, Ukraine has increased the rate of exports from 278,000 tons to nearly five million tons per month. He said over 300 vessels have as of mid-December transported more than 10 million tons of products from Ukraine to 24 countries. As of the middle of the month, he said a total of 337 vessels had arrived in Ukraine’s seaports to load mostly corn and grain as well as some other metal products.
While ships continue to transit the corridor, the danger remains high mostly from mines. Earlier in the fall, Ukraine’s Southern Command warned that Russian forces were dropping what it thought were bottom mines along the route and near the entrance to the ports. The Odesa Maritime Guard told AFP that the Vyssos was the third vessel to be damaged by a mine this month.
Bulker is reported to have lost power and steering but was able to maneuver closer to shore before being towed to port