The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, loaded up with 26,000 tonnes of corn, has set sail from Ukraine's Odessa to Lebanon via Istanbul.
The first grain-laden ship to leave Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began has passed an inspection in Istanbul and continued to sail to Lebanon, following a Türkiye-brokered deal.
The inspections by a team from the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul lasted over an hour on Wednesday.
Two boats carrying inspection personnel took off from a small fishing port in Istanbul's Rumeli Feneri towards the ship, which was circled by two coast guard boats while a helicopter flew around it.
After getting security clearance in Istanbul, the ship continued sailing to Lebanon’s port of Tripoli.
The Razoni, carrying over 26,500 tonnes of corn to Lebanon, anchored off the Turkish coast near the Black Sea entrance of the Istanbul Strait on Tuesday night.
The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship departed from the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday, the first under a landmark deal brokered by Türkiye to resume grain shipments from blockaded Ukrainian ports.
In pictures: Inspection of Razoni cargo ship has been completed and it will continue on its journey through the Istanbul Strait to Lebanon – Turkish Defence Ministry pic.twitter.com/zR3eHgqz7d— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 3, 2022
Joint Coordination Centre
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed the historic deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports — Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Pivdennyi — for grain stuck due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is now in its sixth month.
Under the deal, the Istanbul JCC will carry out joint inspections at the entrances and exits of harbours, and also ensure the safety of sea routes to be used by merchant ships carrying commercial foods items and fertilisers from the three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.
UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday "warmly" welcomed the departure of the Razoni, expressing hope "this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts".
The halt of deliveries from Ukraine — one of the world's biggest grain exporters — has contributed to soaring food prices, hitting the world's poorest nations especially hard.
More ships from Ukraine are expected to set out in the coming days. Some 27 vessels have been waiting in three Ukrainian ports with cargo and signed contracts, ready to go, according to UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.