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Ukraine seizes repeated Crimea caller in Danube operation

The vessel was sailing from Moldova when it was intercepted at the request of the prosecutor’s office of Crimea

Cameroon-flagged vessel Usko Mfu had unloaded cargo in Sevastopol from Türkiye at the end of May and in early June

UKRAINIAN authorities seized a general cargoship during its voyage through the Danube River alleging it unlawfully crossed Ukraine’s national borders and transported cargo into and out of Russia-occupied Sevastopol.

Cameroon-flagged, 4,127 dwt general cargoship Usko Mfu (IMO: 7919781) was sailing from Moldova’s Danube River port of Giurgiulesti when it was approached by a vessel and forced to anchor by Ukraine’s Reni port, according to the vessel’s agent Avalon Shipping.

The agent and the ship’s broker say Usko Mfu was intercepted by a military boat while in Romanian waters.

The Danube River is a narrow waterway and the particular section Usko Mfu was sailing is bordered both by Romania and Ukraine.

Analysis of Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows Usko Mfu passing between Ukrainian and Romanian waters as it headed downstream.

The ship was searched and has been prohibited from leaving, said Avalon Shipping.

Usko Mfu is loaded with barley and its intended destination is Souda, Greece.



A court document issued by the Ukrainian government and reviewed by Lloyd’s List states the seizure of Usko Mfu was requested by the Prosecutor’s office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City.

The document is an initial draft covering the seizure owing to the time it takes to draft a full court decision and is thin on details as a result. The full court decision is expected in the coming days.  

“The main part of the charge is the ship’s latest trip to Sevastopol where it unloaded cargo from Türkiye, but it is also being targeted for unlawfully crossing the national borders of Ukraine,” said Bosphorus Observer geopolitical consultant Yörük Işik, who has direct knowledge of the matter. 

Usko Mfu loaded what was likely gypsum at the port of Eregli in May which was delivered directly to Sevastopol.

Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel tracking data shows a gap in Usko Mfu’s Automatic Identification System data from May 22 to June 5 after its departure from Eregli.

The ship can be seen unloading at Komyshova Bay in Sevastopol in satellite images provided by Planet Labs PBC during this gap.



“The Crimea prosecutor’s office has been after this vessel for a while because it is a repeated offender,” explains Işik.

Usko Mfu can be tracked exporting grain from Sevastopol to Türkiye in November 2023.

The court document and IMO’s GISIS database say the owner of Usko Mfu is Med Voyager Shipping Inc.

Lloyd’s List understands the vessel was acquired by Usko Shipping prior to the outbreak of the war.

Ibrahim Kaptan of Usko Shipping told Lloyd’s List that the vessel only called to Crimea when it was owned by Med Voyager and denies any voyages while under the ownership of Usko Shipping.

This is not the first time Ukraine has detained a ship for entering Crimean ports.

Tanzania-flagged general cargoship Sky Moon (IMO: 7525334) was seized in 2016 at Reni and remains there to this day.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly accused Russia of using ports such as Sevastopol to export grain originating from occupied territories and have recently issued arrest warrants for 24 ships they claim to be involved in these operations.

Statements from Russian government officials reveal Moscow’s intention to expand operations out of occupied ports, including those in more recently occupied territories.


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