Turkish authorities warn against drifting mines in Black Sea
Turkish authorities have issued a NAVTEX, or navigational alert, against mines that are drifting in the Black Sea.
Ukraine and Russia blame each other for those now freely floating explosives.
The Samsun NAVTEX station of the Turkish Naval Forces’ office of navigation issued a statement on March 21 warning ships in the Black Sea against the mines.
“It was reported that the approaches of the ports Odessa, Ochakov, Chernomorsk and Yuzhnyy were mined. The mines can be drifted upon released from their gear and can be dangerous to navigational safety. Therefore, it is important to keep a sharp lookout for drifted mines by all ships in the vicinity,” the station said.
It is requested from ships in the vicinity to report immediately any detection of drifted mine or mine-like objects to the Turkish main search and rescue coordination center and the Turkish Naval Forces, it added.
It is not known how many of those some 420 mines, most of them were deployed off the coast of Odessa, are drifting in the Black Sea. Experts say even if 5 percent of those mines are now freely floating, they pose a serious threat to ships. They note that each mine contains 20 kilograms of TNT.
Turkish authorities will also be conducting surveillance operations from the air to detect the drifting mines.
Last week, Russia warned that mines that Ukrainians had deployed in the Black Sea against its “military operation” could drift as far as the Bosphorus Strait and the Mediterranean Sea.
The mines were “dilapidated” and made in the first half of the 20th century, Russia’s FSB security service said in a statement on March 19.
Storms cut cables to some of those mines that are now floating freely in the western Black Sea, pushed along by wind and the currents, it said.