LPG Tanker Explosion Kills 11 Near Kerch Strait

By MarEx 2019-01-21 17:01:00

According to Russia's transport ministry, at least 11 crewmembers were killed Monday                       when two vessels caught fire near the Kerch Strait, the contested waterway connecting the                  Black Sea with the Sea of Azov.

The Russian Maritime and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot) said that the                                       two ships were involved in a cargo transfer at the time of the casualty. One of the two                        vessels exploded, and the fire then spread to the second ship. 14 crewmembers                                escaped by jumping over the side and were rescued from the water. Six more are                                       still officially listed as missing, including three whose bodies have been sighted but                                     not recovered from the water.

The ships have been identified as the LPG tanker Venice and the LPG tanker                                 Maestro, both Tanzanian-flagged and both owned by firms at the same post office                                    box number in Anguilla. AIS data confirms that both vessels were operating in the Black                            Sea region within the past month.

The 1990-built Maestro's last PSC inspection found 13 deficiencies, according to her                                Equasis record: In October, Russian inspectors noted concerns regarding corrosion of                                her bulkheads and decks.

Traffic through Kerch Strait was not affected by the casualty, according to officials                                       in Russian-occupied Crimea. There have been no indications that the incident is                                         related to ongoing geopolitical tensions in the area.

In recent months, the Kerch Strait has been a flashpoint in the simmering conflict                                between Russia and Ukraine. On November 25, Russian forces fired on and seized                                 two Ukrainian gunboats and one tug after the Ukrainian vessels tried to pass under the                            Kerch Strait Bridge. The Russian authorities detained 24 Ukrainian sailors in connection                             with the seizure, and several have been charged with "breaching Russia's borders,"                                   according to state media. Three sailors sustained "soft tissue injuries" and received                                   treatment in Russian-occupied Crimea.








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