After a year and a half of waiting because of the Russian war of aggression, a German container ship has left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea. The "Joseph Schulte" is the first ship to use a temporary corridor that leads to and from the seaports of the Ukraine. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Kubrakov on Facebook on Wednesday. The freighter sets course for the Bosphorus. The Hamburg shipping company Bernhard Schulte confirmed that the ship was on its way. The Ukrainian Navy last week designated a sea corridor that merchant ships can use at their own risk.
The Hong Kong-flagged ship is said to be transporting more than 2,100 containers containing around 30,000 tons of general cargo. It had moored in Odessa on February 23, 2022. A day later, Russia invaded the neighboring country and blocked the ports. Since then, more than 60 ships from many countries have shared the fate of the "Joseph Schulte".
The crew is doing well, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) in Hamburg. The "Joseph Schulte" will sail along the specified security corridor through the sovereign waters of Ukraine, Romania and Turkey. Apparently, agreements with many sides preceded the departure. The company thanked "various stakeholders on the ground," the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the flag state of Hong Kong and others who made the ship's safe passage possible.
Only seafarers from Ukraine on board
After the beginning of the war, part of the ship's crew was taken out of the Ukraine. A Ukrainian skeleton crew kept the 300-meter-long container freighter in good shape, a company spokeswoman said. Only Ukrainian seamen are on board for the current voyage.
Ukraine has been repelling a Russian invasion for more than 17 months. The Ukrainian Black Sea ports are being blocked by the Russian fleet. For just over a year there has been an exception for Ukrainian agricultural exports from three ports around Odessa. Russia announced this in mid-July. Since then, no freighter has called at the seaports. Russia sees all ships bound for Ukrainian ports as potential carriers of supplies for the Ukrainian army. On Sunday, the Russian military stopped and checked a ship on its way to the Danube port of Izmail.