Sanctioned Russian tanker hit in drone attack south of Kerch Strait
Tanker reported to have sustained damage to its engine room following an explosion on starboard side
Tanker Sig is part of a fleet of sanctioned, Russia-controlled ships regularly trading between Russian managed areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to Syria
A RUSSIA-flagged product tanker has been hit by a suspected naval drone south of the Crimean Bridge in the latest attack targeting shipping in the Black Sea.
The 6,619 dwt Sig (IMO: 9735335) is reported to have sustained damage to its engine room following an explosion on the starboard side of the vessel. The attack happened 30 nautical miles south of the Kerch Strait.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency quoted an official from the country’s regional Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre as saying that two tugs had already arrived at the scene of the attack — just to the south of the Kerch Strait.
Details of the attack were confirmed by the Taman Sea Rescue Sub-Centre.
Traffic was halted for a time on the bridge, the third such stop in the past 24 hours, but later resumed, according to the MRCC.
The most recent Automatic Identification System signal from Sig, which has been under US sanctions since 2019 for jet fuel deliveries to Syria, was received late on Friday evening. However, the tanker has a long history of AIS blackouts.
Sig is one of several sanctioned tankers understood to be controlled by Russian government entities.
Sig’s recent trading history has been a pattern of voyages shuttling between Russia-controlled areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov down to the Mediterranean Sea, going dark on the approach to Cyprus.
The attacks, both assumed to have been conducted by Ukraine using unmanned naval drones, imply a growing range for the remotely controlled attack craft.
Two weeks ago, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence warned that from July 21 onward, all vessels heading toward Russian or Russia-occupied seaports in the Black Sea “may be considered as carrying military cargo with all relevant risks”.