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Storms Wreak Havoc on Shipping in the Mediterranean and Black Sea

ferry aground
Former Italian ferry aground off Sicily after a tow line parted in a storm (Guardia Costiera on X)

Published Nov 27, 2023 3:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Strong storms moved across the Mediterranean and Black Sea with Russian and Turkish authorities saying the storms in their region were among the strongest they have experienced. At least five ships are reported to have required assistance with many of them driven on shore as a week of bad weather continues in the Black Sea. To the west in the Mediterranean, the Italian Coast Guard is dealing with a derelict ferry that washed ashore on the northern coast of Sicily.

The ferry Benjamini Carnevale (built in 1992) had been sitting idle for nearly two years in Naples, Italy after being damaged in a fire at sea in January 2022. Formerly operated by Tirrenia, the 14,500 gross ton ferry was sold at auction last month as part of the financial restructuring of Moby and was due to be towed to Turkey, where she may be headed for scrap. 

Renamed Lider Prestij, she departed Naples under tow but on November 25 in high seas due to the Mediterranean storm she parted her tow line near the island from Stromboli and began drifting. She came to rest on Sunday, November 26, approximately 10 miles from Milazzo on the northern coast of Sicily. Guardia Costiera reports they are supervising the salvage efforts that began today.

 

 

Turkish officials were responding to a Cameroon-registered general cargo ship that was sailing along the northern coast of Turkey in the Black Sea after departing Poti in Georgia. The 3,666 dwt vessel Vamos was driven ashore near the town of Inebolu on the central Turkish coast. The local fire department responded to rescue the 11 crewmembers but was only able to get six off the vessel before the ladder on its truck was damaged by the rocking ship. One of the crewmembers reportedly fell or jumped into the water with a rope and needed to be taken to the hospital. The remaining crewmembers were removed from the ship after a second fire truck arrived for a neighboring district.

 

 

Another small general cargo ship, the FR Pearl registered in Palau was also driven ashore in eastern Turkey near the border with Georgia. The 4,000 dwt vessel went aground today, November 27, with the local authorities reporting that lines were strung to the vessel and 13 crewmembers were brought to shore with a breeches buoy.

To the north, Russia’s maritime rescue squad responded as a 27,300 dwt bulker named Blue Shark was driven ashore near the town of Vityazevo. Registered in Belize, the vessel was transporting barley to Egypt. There is a crew of 21 aboard, but the decision was made that they should stay aboard their vessel until the weather eased. 

 

Blue Shark aground in Russia (Telegram)

 

Ports in both Ukraine and Crimea reported that they had suspended exports of both grains and fuel due to the bad weather. Russian officials reportedly have ordered the Kerch Strait which connects the Sea of Azov and Black Sea closed until at least November 30 after several barges collided in the area after days of heavy rain and wind from the storms. To the west in Romania, the port of Constanta was also reported closed as the country also experienced heavy winds and snow over the weekend.

 

Crewmembers being brought ashore in a breeches buoy (Turkey AFAD)