A cargo ship operating near Romania had to be evacuated after an explosion that the crew said they believed was caused by a mine.
The blast early on September 20 destroyed the engine room of the Seama, sailing under the flag of Togo.
A Mayday signal was sent out and the Romanian Coast Guard had to rescue all 12 crew members.
The incident happened around 16 nautical miles from the Romanian port of Sulina, although outside Romanian territorial waters.
“The rescue operation involved a mobility unit from the Coast Guard and a specialised SAR vessel from ARSVOM. All crew members were safely brought to the port of Sulina aboard the ARSVOM vessel,” the Romanian Coast Guard said.
“Investigations are being carried out by the Romanian Maritime Authority.”
The vessel sustained heavy damage and a reported loss of onboard power generators. Without electrical power the ship’s pumps, which could removed incoming water, were rendered useless.
There were no Romanian citizens on board at the time of the explosion. Among the 12 crew members, six are Syrian.
One crew member is said to have suffered burns.
The cause of the explosion has not been officially established. There is speculation that the ship could have hit a sea mine leading to the blast, although it may have been an internal fault.
For weeks, there has been escalating tension along the Romanian Danube-border after the discovery of Russian drone fragments just a few miles from inhabited villages.
Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter, has faced attacks from Russia on its agricultural and port facilities after Moscow refused to renew a secure grain-transit corridor negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey.
The Black Sea has been littered with sea mines by both Ukraine and Russia. Some of those mines drift away and float unmarked in the sea, causing significant risk to shipping.
In mid-August there was a large explosion near a popular tourist resort in Romania. That blast was presumed to have been caused by a stray Russian sea mine.
Since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Romanian navy has defused several such Russian mines in the Black Sea.
Romanian rescue services evacuate 12 crew members after their cargo ship Seama struck a naval mine in the Romanian port of Sulina (right next to Ukraine)
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) September 20, 2023