By Julia Payne
LONDON (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russian warships shelled a Moldovan-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship due to load grain near Odessa port in the Black Sea on Friday, one day after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
A total of three non-military vessels have now been hit since the start of the invasion. On Thursday, the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter cargo ship was struck off Odessa.
Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said that the Moldovan-flagged vessel, the Millennial Spirit, was carrying 600 tonnes of diesel at the time of the attack from a Russian military ship.
Earlier on Friday Moldova’s naval agency said the crew of the Millennial Spirit was Russian and that two of them had been seriously injured.
“We just heard 10 minutes ago that all the crew were saved but two were seriously injured and are on the way to hospital,” Pavalachi said.
According to the Ukrainian ministry, the cargo ship Namura Queen was also hit by Russian missiles on Friday.
“According to the information of the traffic control and the service of the Harbor Master at 12:55 at anchorage point No.358 a rocket hit the stern of the mv ‘NAMURA QUEEN’,” Ukrainian shipping agent Stark Shipping based in Odessa said.
“The ship flying the flag of Panama was heading to the Pivdennyi port (ex. Yuzhny) to load grain … There was a fire on the ship, the P&O STAR tug moved to the rescue. The situation is under control,” it added.
The PO Star tug was seen alongside the Namura Queen earlier on Friday, according to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking.
The ship owner, Fayette Shipping, did not respond to a request for comment via email.
Nikko Kisen is listed by global ship tracking website Vessel Finder as one of the owners of the Namura Queen.
Japanese shipping company Nissen Kaiun, an affiliate of Nikko Kisen, told Reuters that a cargo ship had been hit, but declined to give further information.
Late on Friday, the Panama Maritime Authority urged ships to keep “maximum vigilance and increase security conditions on board” when moving through Ukrainian and Russian waters, in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine says two commercial ships hit by Russian missiles near Odessa port
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