First vessel leaves Ukrainian Black Sea ports after corridor opens

16 Aug 2023 | Masha Belikova

The Ukrainian government has confirmed that the first vessel trapped in a Ukrainian Black Sea port since the beginning of the invasion has been able to leave under a new humanitarian corridor that the country's naval forces opened last week.

The route is intended to cover commercial vessels operating in the region, with particular focus on vessels that have spent the duration of the conflict stuck in port. 

The Hong Kong-flagged container ship, Joseph Schulte, had been stuck in Ukraine since the war started on February 24, 2022, after arriving in port on February 23, the Ministry of Infrastructure said in a note.

It is now heading toward the Bosporus strait, and carrying up to 30,000 mt of cargo, including food, according to the minister.

Unlike the vessels that carried agricultural cargoes that were allowed to use the corridors under the previous Black Sea grain deal agreement, all the vessels covered by this agreement appear to have been stuck in Ukrainian ports since the invasion started, apart from a few Turkish vessels that had agreed to leave earlier this year.

But on August 10, Ukrainian naval forces opened a corridor for commercial vessels to exit and enter the Ukrainian Black Sea ports, but said that before shipment the owners or captains have to confirm they understand the risks and willingness to ship in such conditions.

The trade is following closely the development of the situation, as the hope is that if all goes well, it could give a strong signal for vessels to enter the ports.