Turkish-Controlled Bulker Reportedly Hit by Shell in the Black Sea
Turkey’s president and maritime affairs department were quick to condemn a reported attack on a Turkish-controlled bulker that they said was hit by a shell or possibly a missile while sailing in the Black Sea. It was the latest report of merchant ships finding themselves caught in the crossfire after Russia launched its assault on Ukraine early today.
"Following the information that a bomb hit the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter with the Marshall Islands flag off the coast of Odessa, which came to AAKKM, it was learned during the meeting that there was no request for help, that the ship was in transit to Romanian territorial waters, that there was no loss of life and that it was safe," reported the Turkish General Directorate of Maritime Affairs in a brief statement on Twitter.
Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, issued a stronger statement denouncing the attack on the ship and the assault. Calling it a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and an unjustified attack he said that “Turkey supports Ukraine’s struggle to preserve its territorial integrity,"
The Turkish ministry issued a single photo reported to the wheelhouse of the bulker Yasa Jupiter. The 61,000 dwt bulker had reportedly departed the port of Dneprobugsky in Ukraine and its AIS was showing a destination of Novorossiysk in Russia. It was reported hit by either a bomb or possibly a missile while approximately 60 nautical miles outside of Odessa. The picture shows the bridge covered in broken glass and debris. The indications are that the vessel was hit in one of its holds and while sustaining some damage remained seaworthy with the Turkish ministry saying it is now heading into Romanian waters.
Earlier reports of two Russian cargo ships being attacked remain unverified. Russia’s Federal Security Service said that two of its merchant vessels had been attacked by the Ukrainian military, a report that analysts are questioning the authenticity along with Ukraine’s ability to undertake such an attack as it struggles against the Russian onslaught.
Russia’s State Border Service in a widely carried report said that one crew member had been injured and that a small fire had started on an oil and ore carrier, the 3,345 dwt SGC Flot. To support their claims they released a video reporting to show damage on the stern decks of the vessel. The same stories said that a 3,878 dwt general cargo ship the Seraphim Sarovskiy had also been damaged during an attack. Both vessels were reported underway in the Sea of Azov inbound to ports in the Crimea region Russia annexed in in 2014.
“At this time, Dryad Global advises all commercial operators to avoid any transit or operation within the EEZ of Ukraine or Russia within the Black Sea,” the security analysts wrote in their first briefing on the conflict. They noted that commercial ports in Ukraine and the Russian-controlled areas along the Sea of Azov were now closed while advising vessels to depart the area when it was safe.
The U.S. Department of Transport is warning that commercial vessels may experience GPS interference, AIS spoofing, or other communications jamming when navigating in the Black Sea. At the same time with the reports of attacks and uncertainty Ukrainian and Russian waters in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov were added to the list of Hull War, Piracy, Terrorism and Related Perils Listed Areas by the Joint War Committee. Owners are being advised to get in touch with their war risk insurers if they plan to enter the region. Many of the major shipping companies, including MSC, Maersk, and Hapag-Lloyd all issued customer advisories saying that port calls were suspended in Ukraine and that they were no longer accepting booking to the region. They are working to determine how to handle cargo in transit with MSC saying it would be offloaded at the port before the scheduled call in Ukraine.