Russian Navy helicopter intercepts cargo ship in the Black Sea

Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on August 13, 2023, that the cargo ship Sukru Okan had been intercepted using a Kamov Ka-29 helicopter after its captain allegedly failed to respond to orders to halt for an “inspection concerning the transport of prohibited goods.” 

The cargo ship, flying the flag of Palau, was initially set to head to the river port of Izmail in the Odesa region of Ukraine, having departed from Chalkis, Greece, on August 7, 2023.  

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the captain of the Sukru Okan failed to respond to orders to stop for inspection. 

“To force the ship to stop, a warning shot from automatic small arms was fired from the Russian warship,” the ministry reported. 

Subsequently, a team of Russian soldiers was hoisted onto the civilian vessel by a Kamov Ka-29 helicopter to conduct an inspection. 

The Kamov Ka-29, designated “Helix-B” by NATO, is a twin-rotor naval helicopter developed in the 1970s. It can accommodate up to 16 troops. The Ka-29 helicopter operates from Russian warships such as the Vasiliy Bykov and fulfills roles like troop transport, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, and, like in this case, airborne assault missions.  

Following the inspection, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the Sukru Okan was allowed to continue its journey to the port of Izmail. However, the cargo ship seems to have altered its course, moving into Turkish territorial waters and then into Bulgarian waters. At the time this article was published, the Sukru Okan was near the port of Sulina, Romania.  

The ministry emphasized that it considered any ships headed toward Ukraine as potentially transporting prohibited goods. This scrutiny follows the expiration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, 2023, a deal previously reached by Ukraine and Russia to allow the export of agricultural products despite the ongoing war and the Russian-imposed blockade.   

On August 10, 2023, Ukrainian authorities announced they would attempt to establish “temporary corridors” in the Black Sea, aimed at allowing the departure of cargo ships trapped in its ports since the outbreak of the invasion. 

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