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Alleged grain-smuggling vessel sought by Ukraine moves to Turkish anchorage

This is the first time since July last year that Ukrainian authorities have sought detention of a ship involved in alleged grain smuggling

Bulk carrier that Kyiv says is loaded with stolen barley has relocated to Samsun anchorage after spending a week at the port

A BULK carrier, which Ukrainian officials claim is loaded with thousands of tonnes of grain stolen from occupied territories, has left the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun and is now waiting in anchorage.

Ukrainian prosecutors in Kyiv asked Turkish authorities to seize small handy bulk carrier Bomustafa O (IMO: 9114476), saying it is laden with 19,000 tonnes of barley originating from the country, according to evidence reviewed by Lloyd’s List.

The cargo was allegedly transferred via a ship-to-ship transfer in Kavkaz anchorage.

The general cargoship Vera (IMO: 8602957) loaded grain in the occupied Crimea port of Kerch with its Automatic Identification System off at the end of March, according to the claims.

This was then transshipped to Bomustafa O.

Vera typically calls at just three ports,” said Yörük Işık, a geopolitical analyst from the Istanbul-based consultancy Bosphorus Observer. “We have captured it with satellite in Sevastopol, it can also be tracked going to Samsun, and I have reviewed pictures of it docked in the port of Kerch.”

“At other times, it works as a feeder ship in the Kerch Strait.”

Vera frequently operates off the radar, recording 13 AIS gaps since the incursion started, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data.

Bomustafa O arrived at Kavkaz anchorage, an STS area used in Russia’s legitimate grain export, on March 23.

The bulker was anchored in the south of the Kerch Strait for 20 days, recording nine AIS gaps during this time.

The dark periods ranged from one to two days.

Bomustafa O departed Kavkaz anchorage on April 13, increasing its draught from 5.4 m to 8.4 m the same day.

It arrived at Samsun on April 17, where it remained docked until April 24.

Bomustafa O is now anchored off Samsun.



Port authorities did not respond to request for comment on the status of the ship.

A Turkish official said the ship was not arrested but declined to say whether any action was taken against it.

Detention data from the Black Sea MOU does not indicate that the vessel was detained.

Bomustafa O was previously a participant in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which enables the safe export of grain and other foodstuffs from three of Ukraine’s greater Odesa ports.

It made two calls to the port of Chornomorsk, delivering 12,500 tonnes of sunflower seeds to the UK and 22,800 tonnes of wheat to Libya.

Bomustafa O is beneficially owned by a UAE-based entity called Tower Shipping Company.

This is the first time Ukrainian officials have requested the seizure of a vessel since July last year.

General cargoship Zhibek Zholy (IMO: 9598880), Russia-flagged at the time, was detained in Karasu on July 3, 2022, after Ukraine officials claimed the wheat on board was stolen.

Syrian state-owned general cargoship Laodicea (IMO: 9274343) was arrested in Tripoli, Lebanon on July 29.

In both cases the ships were released without unloading their cargo. An investigation by Lebanese authorities determined the source of the shipment on board Laodicea was legitimate. 

It is not clear if goods have been offloaded from Bomustafa O.

With additional reporting by Enes Tunagur 

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