Technical problems onboard a massive crude tanker Friday led to the shutdown of Turkey's Bosphorus Strait.
The vessel veered off course in the Bosphorus Strait, a narrow waterway that divides the city of Istanbul and connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
The crude oil tanker RAVA disrupted vessel activity for three hours Friday as tugboats had to intervene and prevented the vessel from plowing into the shoreline of Istanbul's Yenikoy district. The entire operation took eight tugs and five other vessels. The straight was reopened later in the day.
A Turkish Coast Guard source told Sputnik late Friday night:
"The tanker was towed from the Bosphorus and delivered to an anchorage," the directorate said. "Movement on the Bosphorus is reopened."
Here's a video of the paralyzed 249-meter-long oil tanker.
Tanker kıyıya sürüklenince Boğaz’da trafik askıya alındı. Biz de olayları canlı izledik.🛸📺🔗— Esra Abacioğlu Akcan (@sopranoakcan) May 28, 2021
Traffic was suspended on the Bosphorus when the tanker was dragged to the shore. We also watched the events live.😲#bhosphorus #istanbul🇹🇷 #live pic.twitter.com/1cld9h2zHW
Turkey's Directorate General of Coastal Safety (KEGM) posted images of the oil tanker being towed by tugboats.
At its narrowest point, the waterway is 700 meters wide. The temporary suspension of traffic in the Strait conjured up fears of the Suez Canal blockage in late March. Bosphorus is a strategic chokepoint and represents a substantial geopolitical risk if extended closure were to happen because its critical to global trade between Asia and Europe.
While we may never know what "technical problems" the vessel experienced or what exactly caused it, one thing is sure is that the Strait has become an essential route for Russian naval traffic.
There's probably a lot more to this story that is not being disclosed...