Carriers urged to avoid Black Sea as Turkish Bulker gets hit by bomb off Odessa

On Thursday, the Turkish-owned bulk carrier Yasa Jupiter was struck by a missile in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine's Odessa, sustaining minor damage and becoming the first verified merchant ship victim of war since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The 61,078 dwt bulk carrier Yasa Jupiter was en route to Romanian waters. None of the crew members was hurt. The Turkish business Yasa Shipping's Marshall Islands-flagged ultramax was on its approach to Romanian national seas. According to the firm, one of the hatch covers was struck when the cargo was released at Odessa, Ukraine's largest port. There has been no recorded injury or loss of life.

"Following the information that a bomb hit the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter with the Marshall Islands flag off the coast of Odessa, which came to AAKKM, it was learned during the meeting that there was no request for help, that the ship was in transit to Romanian territorial waters, that there was no loss of life and that it was safe," reported the Turkish General Directorate of Maritime Affairs in a brief statement on Twitter.

However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, delivered a harsher statement condemning the attack on the ship and the assault. He described the strike as a breach of Ukrainian sovereignty and an illegitimate action, adding that "Turkey supports Ukraine's effort to protect its territorial integrity."

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a single photo taken from the wheelhouse of the bulker Yasa Jupiter. The 61,000 dwt bulker had apparently left the Ukrainian port of Dneprobugsky, with its AIS identifying a destination of Novorossiysk in Russia. It was claimed to have been hit by either a bomb or a missile when around 60 nautical miles outside of Odessa. The image depicts a bridge covered in shattered glass and trash.

According to reports, the ship was struck in one of its holds but remained seaworthy, with the Turkish Ministry stating that it is currently sailing towards Romanian seas. Earlier allegations of two Russian cargo ships being assaulted are yet to be confirmed. Russia's Federal Security Service said that two of its commercial vessels were targeted by the Ukrainian military, an allegation that observers are disputing as well as Ukraine's capacity to carry out such an attack as it battles the Russian attack.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in the closure of all ports of the nation, as well as suspension of all rail transportation by the government. The Ukrainian military has ordered the suspension of all commercial activity at Ukraine's seaports.

Russia previously halted commercial ships in the Azov Sea until further notice, although Russian ports in the Black Sea remained open for navigation. Nonetheless, Dryad Global, a maritime security consultant, recommended all commercial operators to avoid any transit or activity in the Black sea within the exclusive economic zones of Ukraine or Russia.