A cargo ship had to be rescued off the coast of Romania on Wednesday after hitting what is believed could have been a naval mine.
The Romanian Naval Authority (MRCC) reported that it had reacted to a distress message received from a Togo-registered vessel, the Seama, following an explosion in its engine room at 6:50 a.m. on Wednesday 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) east of Sulina.
Bucharest says it’s now investigating the possibility of a collision with a naval mine of undetermined origin.
MRCC dispatched a Romanian search and rescue vessel, the Ares and a tug to assist in the rescue. The ship was reported to be tilted to the stern, but it was said currently not to be in danger of sinking.
The Romanian navy was reported to be sending a mine sweeper, the Vice-Admiral Constantin Balescu, and a team of divers to the scene.
A spokesperson for Romania’s Maritime Life Saving Agency (ARSVOM), Dorina Pop, said that all the twelve crew members had been evacuated by helicopter, at the request of the ship’s captain, who said he believed the vessel had struck a naval mine.
Several of the crew required medical treatment, including one who “had suffered burns to his right side, but was now out of danger.”
A member of Ambrey, a maritime risk management and security company said “This incident underscores the importance of conducting transit and drifting threat assessments to mitigate the risks associated with sailing in the Black Sea.
Romanian officials have not yet confirmed the cause of the explosion and said: “Whether the explosion was due to a mine remains to be determined by the Ministry of Defense.”
In July, following Russia’s withdrawal from the UN-brokered grain export deal, the White House accused Moscow of specifically laying mines on the approaches to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to deter cargo vessels from entering.
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