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Two Bulkers Become First Larger Grain Ships to Sail Corridor into Ukraine

bulker arriving Ukraine
Turkish-managed cargo ship Aroyat was one of the two to use the corridor to sail inbound to load grain (Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority)

Published Sep 16, 2023 3:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two Turkish-owned dry bulk carriers arrived in Ukraine on Saturday, September 16, defying the Russian moratorium on grain shipping after the end of the Black Sea agreements brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. They were the first large vessels to arrive both heading into the port of Chornomorsk, southwest of Odesa.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov wrote “The bulk carriers Resilient Africa and Aroyat confirmed their readiness to use the route to the port of Chornomorsk to load almost 20K tons of wheat for Africa and Asia. The vessels fly the flags of Palau, and their crew consists of citizens of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Ukraine.”

Yesterday, announcing that the fifth merchant ship had used Ukraine’s humanitarian corridor to escape after more than 18 months in Odesa, Kubrakov alluded to the possibility of inbound ships using the same route along the western coastline of the Black Sea sailing through Bulgarian and Romanian waters. He said they were “considering” using the route because of the growing need for agricultural products. He said they were considering sending Ukraine’s agri exports mostly to Asia and Africa along the corridor.

Later today, September 16, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority confirmed that both vessels had arrived at the port. The vessels’ AIS signal also shows them arriving. Ukraine’s Agricultural Ministry also confirmed the arrival on its social media accounts saying the grain would be loaded and sent to Egypt and Israel.

The Aroyat, an 18,315 dwt bulker built in 1997, shows that it departed the Turkish seaport of Diliskelesi east of Istanbul traveling to Ukraine. Registered in Palau, the vessel is managed by a Turkish company.

The Resilient Africa, a 3,267 dwt bulker is a smaller vessel but also registered in Palau and managed by a Turkish company. It is showing that it came from the Romanian seaport of Constanta, which is also being used to support Ukraine’s grain shipments after the end of the export agreement.

UN officials told Reuters that their organization was not involved in these latest shipments. The UN has called for the resumption of the shipments and off the record told the reporter that they welcomed the news of these shipments and all efforts to restart grain shipments. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an had recently tried but failed to persuade Vladimir Putin to agree to a new grain deal.

Kubrakov also reported on his social media that he had traveled yesterday to Constanta for “An important meeting with colleagues from Romania, the United States, Moldova, and the European Commission to find the best solutions for the development of export logistics.” 

He said they had agreed to organize additional transshipment places at Constanta and maximize the efficiency of the Sulina Canal, which links Constanta to the Danube. Ukraine has been seeking to expand these alternate routes as a means of continuing the grain shipments which are critical to the country’s foreign trade and economy.

Observers are seeing today’s arrival as Ukraine’s latest effort toward increasing grain shipments and testing Russia’s resolve to stop commercial ships. The UK recently said the Royal Air Force is observing the ships in the Black Sea in an effort to also deter Russia from interfering with merchant shipping. Since Ukraine announced the corridor in mid-August a total of five ships have used it to break out of the Black Sea ports The Interfax-Ukraine agency is reporting today that another ship is about to be evacuated using the corridor without providing details.