Ship pilot dead, four others injured after Russia attacks bulk carrier approaching Ukraine port

A Ukrainian ship pilot died, with three crew and a dockworker injured, following a Russian missile strike on bulk carrier Kmax Ruler (IMO 9436642) as it was entering the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny on Wednesday November 8th.

Security consultancy Ambrey said that a Soviet-style Kh-31P air-to-surface missile hit the 91,800 dwt Liberian-flagged vessel that was due to load a cargo of iron ore to be exported from Ukraine to China.  Ambrey is advising vessels planning to call at Ukraine ports to apply ballistic protection measures.

Images from the scene showed the bridge and the superstructure to be badly damaged. All three injured crew, one of whom was hospitalized, were Philippine nationals.

The Ukrainian military said that “continuing the terror of civilian shipping, the enemy insidiously fired a Kh-31P anti-radar missile in the direction of one of the ports of Odesa region from tactical aircraft in the Black Sea”. The vessel was hit as it was about to enter the port of Yuzhniy.

The move was the first attack by Russia on a ship using the unilateral Ukraine corridor from its Black Sea ports to Istanbul since it started operating in late August. It was perhaps notable that the targeted ship was due to carry iron ore rather than grain, and was apparently in ballast when struck.

Whether this was a deliberate attack or a “stray” missile intended for the port itself, which has suffered a considerable number of attacks in recent months, was unclear. Russia was not saying.

2009-built, Liberia-flagged, 51,130 gt Kmax Ruler is owned and managed by Venus Mare of Manila, Philippines. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of Venus Mare SA. As of November 8th it was listed as in the Black Sea near Sulina, Romania.