Cargo ship from Ukraine grounded in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait

Maritime traffic in the famous waterway has stalled after a freighter carrying peas runs aground.

A cargo ship travelling from Ukraine to Turkey has run aground in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, suspending traffic in the vital waterway.

Monday’s incident, involving a Palau-flagged vessel called the MKK 1, led to no damage or spills, according to the shipping agents Tribeca.

Several tugs were among vessels sent to provide assistance to the 142-metre (466-foot) freighter, the Turkish coastguard authority said.

Television footage showed the bow of the ship, carrying 13,000 tonnes of peas, grounded close to the coastline on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. The incident occurred at Umuryeri, between the second and third bridges over the Bosphorus.

The Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, which runs United Nations-brokered Black Sea grain deal operations, had previously reported on the weekend that the ship was travelling from Pivdennyi near Odesa, Ukraine, to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Mersin.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office stated that the dry cargo ship ran aground very close to shore in the Beykoz district at approximately 7:30am (04:30 GMT) due to a rudder failure.

Since July, Ukrainian grain has been exported via the Black Sea and the Bosphorus Strait. The deal ended a months-long blockade of Ukrainian grain exports as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine.

The Bosphorus is one of the most important straits in the world, connecting the Black Sea, and ships from Russia and Ukraine, to the Dardenelles Strait, through which ships enter the Mediterranean Sea.

The Palau-flagged bulk carrier MKK1, carrying grain under UN’s Black Sea grain initiative, is seen drifted aground in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Yoruk Isik
The ship was travelling from Ukraine to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Mersin when it ran aground in Istanbul, Turkey [Yoruk Isik/Reuters]

The incident is not the first time the Bosphorus has been closed to shipping. In September, the Lady Zehma, carrying grain from Ukraine, ran aground, causing the strait to close temporarily.

Last week a cargo vessel that ran aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal was refloated. The MV Glory ran aground near the city of Qantara, in the Suez Canal governorate of Ismailia.

In March 2021 one of the world’s largest container vessels blocked traffic along the Suez Canal, disrupting global trade. The Panama-flagged Ever Given ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm.

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