A tweet by Steve Herman, chief national correspondent of Voice of America news, said: “Cargo ship #LadyZehma, carrying 3,000 tons of corn from #Ukraine, has drifted aground in the Bosphorus strait, reportedly halting shipping through Istanbul.” Mr Herman also shared a Marine Traffic map showing the location of the ship.
The Istanbul governor’s office confirmed the 173-meter vessel was safely grounded and anchored after a rudder failure around 6pm GMT.
No one was hurt and Coast Guards were attending, it said.
Earlier this week the Joint Coordination Centre – run by the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey after a grains-export deal was reached – said the Lady Zehma was cleared to depart Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port for Ravenna, Italy.
Turkey’s Directorate General of Coastal Safety (KEGM) shared a picture of the operation to secure the ship earlier.
It commented: “While cruising from Ukraine to Istanbul, the 173 m. LADY ZEHMA, which ran aground due to a rudder failure and anchored in Bebek Bay.
“Our KURTARMA-5, KURTARMA-6 KURTARMA-9, KURTARMA-12, NAZIM TUR Tugs, KEGM-3, KEGM-5 Boats were dispatched to the scene.”
Writing on Telegram earlier this week, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said: “Today, six ships departed from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi at once.
“Among them is the Karteria ship, chartered by the UN World Food Program to help the population of Yemen.
A total of 183,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain is on board the ships Seajoy, Lady Zehma, Saffet Aga, Simas, Michallis, and Karteria, he pointed out.
Mr Kubrakov added: “In less than a month of the Initiative’s work, we exported almost one and a half million tonnes of agricultural products, which is quite a significant result.
“However, we have to send 100-150 vessels per month with a total monthly capacity of 5 million tonnes from the three ports of Greater Odesa.”
The Bosphorus is a strategically vital waterway offering accessing to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean, via the Sea of Marmaris.
It is less than half a mile wide at its narrowest point, and has a maximum depth of 360 feet.
Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, is located at the intersection of the Bosphorus, hence existing partly in Europe and partly in Asia.
Lady Zehma is a General Cargo Ship which was built in 2005, and which currently sails under the flag of Panama, according to vesselfinder.com
(More to follow)