Empty cargo ship leaves Istanbul, heads to Ukraine to load grain

Barbados-flagged merchant vessel Fulmar S. departs for Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk.

Empty cargo ship leaves Istanbul, heads to Ukraine to load grain

An empty cargo ship headed to a Ukrainian port from Istanbul on Friday to collect grain from the war-hit country after its inspections in Türkiye.  

The Barbados-flagged merchant vessel, Fulmar S., headed to Chornomorsk to load grain under a landmark grain deal brokered by Türkiye and the UN last month. 

The ship was inspected by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel from the a Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, and left the northern coast Istanbul after an hour and half hours of inspections.

It was the first empty vessel to do so since Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed the deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports -- Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny -- for grain export that has been stuck for months due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.

To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul was officially launched on July 27, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

On Monday, the first ship to leave Ukraine under the agreement, Sierra Leone-flagged cargo vessel Razoni, departed from Odesa carrying over 26,500 tons of corn, got security clearance in Istanbul, and is on its way to the Lebanese port of Tripoli, its final destination.

Three more ships carrying grain and foodstuffs set out from Ukrainian ports on Friday, according to Türkiye's National Defense Ministry.