Two Turkish-owned cargo ships have reportedly come under attack at the port of Kherson, marking the first time in many months that commercial ships have been damaged during the fighting in Ukraine. Turkish TV is airing an undated video showing the bridge and accommodation block of one of the vessels on fire while the second ship was reported to have been hit possibly by shrapnel.
Both of the vessels registered in Vanuatu and operated by Turkish shipping companies have been trapped in Kherson for nearly a year since the fighting began in Ukraine. They are part of as many as a dozen Turkish ships that were not covered by the UN agreement and have remained caught in Ukrainian ports including Kherson and Mykolaiv while the crews were mostly evacuated.
The vessel shown on fire is the Tuzla, a 43-year-old general cargo ship managed by Cayeli Shipping of Istanbul. AIS data shows the vessel departed Turkey on February 18, 2022, and arrived in Kherson on February 23, the day before the invasion of Ukraine. The vessel is 282 feet long and 3,943 dwt.
Tuzla gemisi vululdu!
Türk sahipli gemi Ukrayna liman?nda füzelerin hedefi oldu
— Veryans?ntv.com (@veryansintvcom) January 24, 2023
The video shows the bridge burnout and flames continuing to come from one deck below in the accommodation block. A local report says there was no intervention but also apparently no injuries.
The second vessel is the Ferahnaz, a 4,750 dwt general cargo ship. The 28-year-old vessel is reportedly in a position near the Tuzla. An official from the Cakiroglu Shipping Company, Huseyin Cebi, is being quoted on Turkish TV saying that the port was bombed yesterday with the Tuzla being hit while pieces of shrapnel caused damage to their vessel.
The Ferahnaz has also been stranded in Kherson for nearly a year but the company reports there is only one crew member aboard, the captain, and he was not injured. A video posted on WhatsApp appears to show one or more holes in the hull of the vessel possibly near the engine room.
Missile attack at Vanatu Flag Cargo Ships Tuzla and Ferahnaz on 24 Jan 23 in Port of Kherson, Ukraine. Till now 19 ships have come under Fire since #RussiaUkraineConflict
Courtsey WhatsApp group and @tradewindsnews pic.twitter.com/kvbEYZky0R
— Capt Sanjay Prashar (@PrasharSdp) January 25, 2023
Western media has not been able to independently verify the nature of the attack or when it took place. Some reports are suggesting it was missiles that struck the port area.
Lloyd’s estimates that 19 merchant ships have been attacked or damaged since the start of the war in Ukraine. Under the agreement established by the UN with the assistance of Turkey, Russia has been permitting bulkers to call at three ports in Ukraine to export grain and other foodstuffs, but the agreement did not permit other trapped vessels to leave other Ukrainian ports.