Turkish freighter allision with Kerch Strait Bridge. Russian media smell sabotage.
Turkish general cargo vesse LIRA allided with Kerch Strait bridge constructions late at night Mar 19, an accident was spotted by Russian national media on Mar 23, and immediately hit the headlines. What’s curious in the whole story, is total inability of Russian authorities to present clear and unequivocal description of an accident.
They said, that the vessel stranded off fairway in Kerch-Yenikalsky canal in the area of buoys 21 and 23a, and allided with pillar No 80 – not a pillar of future bridge, but a pillar of technical bridge to be built for the purpose of construction of main bridge. Kerch-Yenikalsky canal is free of any construction and doesn’t present any danger or obstacle to traffic.
What they didn’t say, was the reason of vessel’s stranding off course. What happened? Russian media, citing Russian officials, said that vessel didn’t have pilot on board, and some officials said it was a grave mistake and negligence on the part of local authorities. It is not true. According to Kerch regulations, vessels of LIRA type and dimensions enjoy the right to pass the strait without pilot. Russian media said, that the vessel was arrested in Taganrog port on arrival, on Mar 21, and is presently docked in Taganrog. It is also not true. After allision, vessel sailed to outer Kerch anchorage in Azov sea, anchored and stayed there until morning Mar 20, then she sailed somewhere into Azov sea blue, and anchored later south of Taganrog in Azov sea, and as of 1600 UTC Mar 23, she remains in the same position.
Russian media said, that LIRA’s crew was painting the sides of the vessel, apparently in an attempt to hide allision traces. It’s not true, it’s more than not true, it’s a foolish statement. Kerch traffic control knew about an accident and was communicating with LIRA before and after collision, so there was no need to “hide the traces”.
If vessel was solely to blame for an accident, she should be detained there and then, and taken either to Kerch port, or to Kerch anchorage.
What happened, then, and why Russian maritime authorities are so evasive in their statements?
AIS tracking of LIRA voyage from Turkey to Azov sea leads one to an assumption, that vessel’s port of destination was Kerch – Crimean port under sanctions, closed for all shipcalls. Port of destination wasn’t recorded, vessel was sailing to the blue vast of Azov sea. In most cases like this one in Black sea – Azov sea region, missing port of destination means that the vessel is heading for Crimean ports, thus violating the sanctions imposed on Crimean shipping, and trying to hide it.
There is another side of the story, the construction of the bridge itself, its’ danger to shipping and due navigational warnings and marks to ensure safety of navigation. Apparently, navigational provisions weren’t sufficient, or were absent.
Quite a number of Russian media assumed, by the way, that the accident wasn’t just technical accident, maybe, they said, it was an act of intentional sabotage, committed by Turkey. Nothing is too much crazy for nowadays Russia.
General cargo vessel LIRA allided with Kerch Strait Bridge
March 20, 2016
General cargo vessel LIRA reportedly allided with constructions of Kerch Strait Bridge, which is under construction, at around 2030 UTC Mar 19, while transiting Kerch Strait in northern direction from Black sea to Azov sea, near Kerch peninsula coast. Damages if any unknown, vessel after allision was anchored in Azov sea off Kerch Strait, resumed sailing in the morning Mar 20, destination unknown.