First ship leaves Ukraine on new grain export corridor

First ship leaves Ukraine on new grain export corridor
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Ship carrying over 30,000 tons of cargo sets sail from Odesa, traversing designated route amid uncertain security.

by Fatima Davis

The first ship used the temporary corridor designated for commercial vessels traveling to and from the ports of Big Odesa, Ukraine.

On August 16, 2023, the container ship, which has been docked in the port of Odesa since February 23, 2022, left the Vorontsov Lighthouse and headed for the Bosporus. It carries over 30 thousand tons of cargo (2,114 containers), including food products.

According to the Russian media reports on the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Alexander Kubrakov, the container ship JOSEPH SCHULTE, flying the flag of Hong Kong, recently left the port of Odesa. It is currently passing through a designated temporary corridor intended for civilian ship traffic to and from the Black Sea ports in Ukraine. The JOSEPH SCHULTE's intended destination is the port of Hambarli in Turkey.

To avoid potential obstacles, the vessel will transit Ukrainian territorial waters and the Romanian maritime economic zone. Having been docked in Odessa since February 2022, the ship's departure comes amid an uncertain security landscape.

On August 12, Dmitry Pletenchuk, a representative of the Ukrainian Navy, announced its readiness to provide a military escort for merchant vessels registered on the route. However, there is no guarantee of complete security. The Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure announced the creation of a temporary corridor to facilitate passage for the ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny. Russia will give priority to ships already in these ports before the start of a special military operation.

Turkey, a participant in the grain deal, is also interested in the resumption of maritime traffic. Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler announced that negotiations were underway with the Russian and Ukrainian parties to enable the return of 12 Turkish merchant ships and a damaged ship's crane from Ukrainian ports to Turkish ports.

In particular, six Turkish vessels are currently in the Ukrainian ports of Nikolaev and Olvia, and it is planned to return them first. While negotiations are progressing positively, final guarantees have yet to be given.

Alexey Yerkhov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, cautioned against overstating the significance of Ukrainian grain shipments on August 16. The Russian ambassador to Turkey underlined Moscow is exploring alternate options within the Black Sea Initiative (Grain Transaction) in collaboration with its partners as Ankara searches for alternate means to resume the grain deal.