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Greek-Owned Cargo Ship Hits a Russian Naval Mine in Ukraine

Greek shipping
Greek-owned cargo ship struck a Russian naval mine. Greek Tanker Credit: fdecomite / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

On Thursday morning, a Greek-owned cargo ship sailing under the Panamanian flag in the Black Sea struck a Russian naval mine while en route to Ismail in Ukraine.

The Incident: Ship Strikes Russian Naval Mine in Ukraine

The ship, named Vyssos, was en route to the port of Ismail on the Danube River to load a cargo of grain when it struck a Russian naval mine. This incident is the latest in a series of non-military vessels striking explosives in the Black Sea. Kyiv has described the situation as an escalation of Russian attacks on shipping and port infrastructure.

“We still don’t know what happened exactly, but the captain has informed us that there has been an explosion,” said a NAVA Shipping representative. Nobody was seriously hurt, according to the company.

Ukraine’s Address of the Incident

The Ukrainian military reported that the incident occurred due to the ship striking an enemy sea mine in the Black Sea. The explosion caused the ship to lose its course and control, leading to a fire on the upper deck.

According to the Ministry of Shipping, the captain and first officer, both Greek, were the only to sustain minor injuries among the eighteen crew members. Due to the explosion, the two sailors lost their footing and fell while on board. However, they quickly recovered with no serious health concerns. A minor injury was also sustained by an Egyptian cook.

The relatives of the crew stated that the ship was in danger of sinking due to a Russian mine near its stern, which was lifted by the force of the explosion. A prompt response by the captain prevented the ship from sinking. One person was transported to the hospital, and another received medical assistance at sea. Tugboats were dispatched to the site, according to the military.

The ship, which had begun its journey from a Romanian port and was headed to Ukraine, did not request assistance. A tugboat will be transporting the vessel to the port of Ismail. This incident raises significant concerns about maritime safety in the region, especially for non-military vessels.

Russian attack on Ukrainian Infrastructure

Since mid-July, Russia has ramped up its attacks on Ukrainian ports and infrastructure, with the Vyssos incident being the latest. This strategy means Russia violated a July 2022 United Nations trade agreement which allowed for the safe transport of Ukrainian grains through the Black Sea.

Russian captured Territories of Ukraine,
Russian-captured territories of Ukraine, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Credit: Physeters, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 4.0

As the Black Sea has become unviable for trade networks, Ukraine has utilized its access to Europe through rivers. The most heavily-used route involves Ukraine’s access to the Danube through Romania and Moldova.

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