Missile Strike Details Emerge as Ukraine Says Bulkers Are Still Sailing
Additional details and a video emerged on yesterday’s missile strike on a bulker docked in the port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) as Ukrainian officials sought to reassure the shipping community that the corridor remains open. At the same time, the Russian attack is drawing wide condemnation including statements from the United Nations and the shipping community.
The vessel has been identified as the Liberian-flagged Kmax Ruler. Built in 2009, the bulker is registered to a company in the Philippines and owned by Greek Cypriot shipowner Andreas Hadjiyiannis, who is also president of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners. The ship is 754 feet in length and had arrived to load iron ore. It was alongside when the missile struck.
According to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, which opened an investigation into the incident, it was around 4:45 p.m. The pilot was still aboard and on the bridge. He was only identified as a 43-year-old and was killed by the attack. A port employee was also injured but it was unclear if that individual was on the ship or the dock.
The Officer-in-Charge of the Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers, Hans Cacdac also detailed the attack. He said the ship’s captain, an able seaman, a deck cadet, and an electrician were on the bridge when the missile struck.
“Thankfully, they were far enough from the point of impact and suffered non-fatal injuries. They are all out of danger,” Cacdac told reporters in Manila. “The electrician sustained a fracture on his left hand and is receiving treatment at an Odesa hospital.”
The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, issued a statement saying, “I am outraged to learn of an attack yesterday on a civilian vessel as it was entering the Ukrainian Black Sea Port of Pivdennyi in Odesa, killing a port worker and injuring crew members… This tragic incident marks the first time civilians are killed and injured on a civilian vessel… International humanitarian law strictly prohibits attacks on civilian infrastructure.”
Ukrainian officials provided additional details reporting that ships were aware of the danger but were continuing to move along the corridor. “The defense forces are doing everything possible to counter Russian attacks on port infrastructure,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Vice Prime Minister for the Restoration of Ukraine, wrote on social media.
They said that six vessels loaded with 231,000 tons of agricultural products had departed from the three ports on the Black Sea today heading toward the Bosphorus. Five other vessels were reported to be waiting to enter the ports. Since Ukraine started the corridor in August, they are reporting that 91 vessels have exported 3.3 million tons of agricultural products and metals. A total of 116 ships have called at the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi.
Industry trade association INTERCARGO released a statement calling for the nations in the Black Sea region to ensure the safety and security of seafarers.
“Bulk carriers, manned by innocent seafarers, are the epitome of non-warships and any attack on them is reprehensible and inexcusable. It is imperative to emphasize that merchant ships, regardless of the ongoing conflict, should not be made pawns in any hostile engagement,” wrote INTERCARGO.