Another mine found, defused in Black Sea
This was the second such incident in the past couple of days. On March 26, a drifting naval mine was detected in the north approach of the Bosporus Strait, which forced authorities to suspend marine traffic in the busy waterway. The mine was later defused.
“Teams from the Underwater Defense (SAS) were dispatched to the location after a mine was detected off the coast of İğneada near the maritime border with Bulgaria in the early hours of March 28,” the Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
SAS teams first secured and later defused the mine, the ministry said.
Russia’s main intelligence agency on March 21 warned that several hundred mines had drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from cables near Ukrainian ports. However, Ukraine refuted the Russian claims.
The Navy and its mine-hunting vessels are constantly on the watch for stray mines potentially floating toward Turkish coasts and straits from the Black Sea, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said over the weekend, adding that there is, however, inconsistent information about those mines.
Amid the first incident, authorities also suspended fishing activities in the Black Sea.
Commercial vessel traffic
The stray marine mines are posing threats to Turkish commercial vessels, said Cihan Ergenç, the head of the Turkish Shipowners’ Association.
Somewhere between 80 to 100 Turkish-flagged or Turkish-owned ships were operating in the Black Sea before the war in Ukraine broke out, Ergenç said.
“We have warned the shipowners and crew on the vessels about the risks and have put them on alert. We are in constant communication with the Foreign Ministry and the Transport Ministry, which are guiding us on the matter,” he added.
“We asked the crew on Turkish ships to inform immediately the Coast Guard, the Navy if they encounter mines or mine-like devices.”
The association also issued a statement to inform Turkish ships regarding the threats from the drifting marine mines in the Black Sea.
“The threat is particularly heightened in the area to the west to the line stretching from Turkey’s İnebolu [on the Black Sea coast] up in the north to the Crimean Peninsula,” it said, adding that vessels should navigate in this area during daytime.
The statement stressed that the ship crew should keep a sharp lookout for possible mines while sailing to the ports in Romania, Bulgaria as wells as Ukraine, Georgia and Russia.