Russian Cargo Ship Issues SOS Taking on Water in the Black Sea
A Russian flagged cargo ship operating in the eastern Black Sea issued a distress call overnight saying that it was taking on water and in danger of sinking. Speculation arose that the vessel had likely hit a mine as it neared the entrance to the Sea of Azov or possibly was struck by friendly fire, but the Russian authorities were quick to dismiss the reports with the official comment being that the vessel developed a small hole due to sailing through strong waves.
The Omskiy 205 built in 1993 was sailing from the Turkish port of Gulluk on the Mediterranean and transited the Bosphorus. She was nearing the northeast portion of the Black Sea heading to Rostov-on-Don in Crimea on the eastern side of the Sea of Azov. The 3,500 dwt vessel is 374 feet long and sailing with a crew of 12. Owned by VVT Shipping of Moscow, the company said the vessel carries general cargo.
Russia reports said the vessel was 2.5 miles from Cape Takil, at the entrance to the Sea of Azov when the captain issued the distress call. He reported that the ship was taking water through a hole in the hull in the area of the engine room and that the vessel had lost power. A tugboat went to the vessel’s aid and then a rescue vessel from Rosmorrechflot. The rescue vessel reportedly was powering three pumps that were placed aboard the cargo ship in an attempt to control the flooding. They were also towing the cargo ship toward shore on the Crimea peninsular where reports said it would be anchored in a sheltered area. Late reports suggested the vessel was beached.
The Russian news agency Tass issued a report saying that there were no injuries and that the hole was not caused by military action.
The incident comes after Turkish EOD divers reported that they had neutralized a naval mine that was found adrift in the Black Sea. Reuters quoted the country's defense ministry as saying the mine was discovered by fishermen near the entrance to the Bosporus. Reports had indicated that mines might be floating in the Black Sea after having broken free during recent storms in the area.