Total impact of heavy storms north and south of Istanbul becomes clearer

Storms at the weekend in Eregli in the Black Sea and three ports in the Marmara Sea to the south of Istanbul had a major impact on vessels in the area, with the severity of the weather event in the Black Sea now appearing on social media.

One vessel, the Kafkametler (IMO 9001112), was lost, with one of its crew confirmed dead and the other 11 missing presumed lost.

The loss of the Kafkametler in particular has given new focus to safety issues on the Turkish domestic fleet. The 3,000 dwt vessel went adrift just outside the harbour shortly after attempting to take shelter. It drifted onto the Eregli breakwater. The vessel sank.

However, the Kafkametler had an extensive history of inspection deficiencies. A Labour Party MP has asked the government’s transport minister to explain whether the ship was in full compliance at the time of the casualty. According to Ahmet Sik, the MP in question, the Kafkametler was known to have faults in its hull and not to be up to standard. Those assertions at the moment remain unverified. “Who gave the order and permission for the ship to leave the port despite the weather conditions?” asked Sik.

The Kafkametler visited several Russian ports in the Sea of Azov and northeastern Black Sea, only intermittently broadcasting an AIS. It returned to Turkish waters early on November 18th, travelling past Eregli with a destination of the small port of Karasu. However, just as it arrived, it doubled back and returned to Eregli, which was the nearest port with an enclosed harbour. With the storm approaching, several ships had sheltered behind Eregli’s breakwaters. The Kafkametler stopped outside the harbour instead of attempting to enter. Pole Star data suggested that it might then have anchored. It then dragged anchor slowly to the north. Then in mid-morning its position shifted suddenly to the other side of the harbour entrance, on the breakwater. This was the last transmission received.

The body of one crewmember, identified as cook Metin Usta, 62, has now been retrieved. Divers were searching for the remaining people who were aboard.

Two other vessels in the harbour also dragged anchor or broke free. River-sea class freighter Pallada (IMO 8866931) broke in two. A crewmember from the vessel shared a video of the scene on the bridge, showing that the Pallada’s deckhouse was no longer connected to the bow.

There were two main areas where ships were damaged, in Eregli on the Black Sea, and at the ports of Gemlik, Yalova and Gebze, in the Marmara Sea, immediately to the south of Istanbul. Two ships were lost/sank and at least eight were damaged to an extent sufficient to be reported.

Several of the vessels impacted were reported in IMN on Tuesday. Some more are reported in the Round-Up today (see below).

1992-built, Turkiye-flagged, 1,866 gt Kafkametler is owned and managed by Kafkametler Denizcilik of Istanbul, Turkiye. It is entered with Thomas Miller Specialty (Hamburg).

1968-built, Cameroon-flagged, 2,457 gt Pallada is owned by an undisclosed interest since November 2021 (previously Sofilarx LLC managed by Neptun-M JSC). It is reported as entered with VSK Insurance Co.