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Search Underway After Shadowy Turkish Cargo Ship Sinks South of Istanbul

search and rescue
An empty raft and life preserver were found during the search (Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs/Twitter)

Published Feb 15, 2024 2:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

Turkish officials are highlighting that an intensive search and rescue operation was launched this morning after a distress signal was received from a small cargo vessel in the Sea of Marmara. The vessel, the Bathuhan A (1,000 dwt) appears to have been operating in a domestic service largely outside international shipping regulations.

The Transport Ministry along with the Navy and the Governor of Busa each issued statements as the search continued in the area. They reported receiving a distress signal shortly after 06:00 this morning but the signal was lost in just over an hour. 

The 226-foot (69 meter) cargo ship had departed last night from the Badalalan port and was reported lost south of Istanbul. Its way to Gemlik transporting 1,250 tons of dolomite, a type of limestone used in the manufacturing of cement.

Officials are blaming the casualty on heavy weather. They are reporting waves up to 10 feet in the area as well as wind and rain. 

 

 

“Intensive efforts are underway to rescue the crew of six people, believed to be Turkish nationals, on the Batuhan A that took on water and sank,” reported Mahmut Demirtas, the governor of Bursa. A total of 275 personnel were involved in the effort which included a Coast Guard corvette as well as three other patrol boats, and boats from the Coastal Safety team as well as a mine hunter and a rescue ship from the Navy. Initial efforts to dispatch a helicopter and search plan were hampered by bad weather.

Search teams located an empty inflatable life raft and a life preserver marked with the name of the ship. The Naval force later reported that its team detected the ship at a depth of 51 meters (167 feet) with a sonar device.

 

Naval Forces report they found the wreckage on sonar (Turkish Naval Forces)

 

Built in 1971, the ship had been acquired by its current owner in 2018 and according to media reports the owner is among the six missing crewmembers. The vessel appears to have been shuttling back and forth between the Turkish ports operating outside international regulation.  Her class society was listed as the Dromon Bureau of Shipping, however it is marked as overdue and withdrawn in 2015. There are no port state inspections on file since 2001, and that one lists 17 deficiencies. 

The ship had a prior incident in April 2021 when it went aground. It was inbound to the Turkish port in Karabiga in the Canakkale Province also on the Sea of Marmara.  It was reportedly attempting to dock to unload an unspecified cargo when it grounded. The ship remained stranded for two days before the crew could be rescued in that incident.