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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Captain Ivan Vikulov catches fire at Azov Sea.

The Crimean Wars took place during 1853-56.  It was a naval and ground campaign pitting the Allied Navies of Britain and France against Russia.  In May 1855, allied forces captured Kerch and gained access to Azov sea and attacked Taganrog.  The sea port with stood all attempts to capture despite the vast superiority of the allied forces.  The main parties to the conflict were the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia - a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. The Crimean War is  considered to be one of the mostr modern wars.   It is also one of the wars to be documented extensively.  

The Sea of Azov is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow (about 4 km) Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded by Ukraine mainland, Russia and  Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The Don and Kuban are the major rivers that flow into it. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world with the depth varying between 0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in) and 14 metres (46 ft).  There is a constant outflow of water from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

The sea is largely affected by the inflow of numerous rivers, which bring sand, silt, and shells, forming numerous bays.  Because of these deposits, the sea bottom is relatively smooth and flat with the depth gradually increasing toward the sea centre. Also, due to the river inflow, water in the sea has low salinity and high content of biological matter, such as green algae that affects the water colour. Abundant plankton results in unusually high fish productivity. The shallowness and low salinity of the sea make it vulnerable to freezing during the winter. Under the present climate the sea no longer freezes over, although during the 18th and 19th centuries, and as recently as in the late 1970s, it was normally frozen over every year by early February. The ice is often unstable and piles up to the height of several metres. Before introduction of icebreakers, navigation was halted in the winter.

A ship getting struck in ice and seeking help of ice-breakers in this region is no news but a Maltese-flagged cargo ship caught fire on 5th Feb 12, while  stuck in heavy ice in the Azov Sea.  The vessel, the M/V Captain Ivan Vikulov, sent a distress signal to maritime authorities in the Ukraine Sunday morning requesting assistance.  Reports state that  icebreaker, Kapitan Moshkin, along with a helicopter were dispatched to the scene to rescue 14 Russian crew members on board.  The fire reportedly stands extinguished, though smoldering continued for some time.  It is now reported that the vessel is  currently at anchor in the Sea of Azov 50 kilometers east of the village of Strilkove on the Arabat Spit. The ship owner  is to decide on the fate of the vessel.

Ship photo from

The  vessel Ivan Vikulov with Maltese flag was heading from Algeria to Rostov-on-Don  and was  blocked by ice since January 28, 2012.  Preliminary reports say that the fire was caused by an explosion; the assisting vessel  Russian ice-breaker Captain Moshkin  helped localize the fire.   Reports further state that 10 people have already been evacuated, with the captain and three more crew members still aboard the crippled ship which is currently tugged to a Russian port.  All those evacuated are in good condition, medics said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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