Maritime Traffic Halted in Bosphorus Strait After Massive Oil Tanker Narrowly Averts Disaster

Turkey's Directorate General of Coastal Safety (KEGM) suspended maritime traffic in the Bosphorus Strait on Friday when a large oil vessel veered off course, triggering a rescue operation.

The tanker called RAVA was carrying 249 meters of crude oil when a mechanical failure caused it to get dragged as it made its way back to the Yenikoy district of Istanbul, according to the Directorate General. KEGM sent two tugboats and successfully intervened.

"Our rescue 8 tugboat and KEGM 5 fast rescue boat were also urgently directed to the tanker, which was stopped 300 meters before the beach. Istanbul Strait traffic has been suspended," KEGM tweeted Friday afternoon.

The state-owned shipping authority provided updates on its rescue mission throughout the day. No damage was reported.

The incident sparked concerns that the shipping world would see a sequel to March's Suez Canal blockage, a major disaster that stopped global trade along the route for six days and disrupted the economy on an international scale. The waterway is responsible for the transportation of about 12 percent of global trade, roughly one million barrels of oil and about 8 percent of liquefied natural gas each day, according to the World Economic Forum.

The accident has resulted in millions in legal repercussions for the multinational conglomerate responsible for the Ever Given, the container ship that became wedged between the banks of the Suez Canal. The ship is currently being held, with support from an Egyptian court, by the Suez Canal Authority until it receives the $916 million it says it is owed for salvage costs and damages.

The Bosphorus Strait, or the Strait of Istanbul, is one of the most internationally significant maritime passages in the world, particularly for oil transportation. The 19-mile waterway links the Black Sea to the world's oceans and is also essential to the local fishing industry.

Two women sit next to the shore of bosphorus strait on May 25, 2021 during a sunny weather near Karakoy port in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE/AFP/Ozan KOSE

KEGM's rescue operation took eight tugboats and five smaller vessels to prevent another global shipping standstill. Traffic was still suspended as of 3 p.m. Friday as the tanker was brought to safety.

"The tanker named RAVA is being pulled to the anchorage area by taking its anchor as of 20.46, accompanied by our SALVAGE 8 and SALT 11 tugboats," KEGM said on Twitter.

RAVA isimli tanker, saat 20.46 itibariyle demirini alarak KURTARMA 8 ve KURTARMA 11 römorkörümüz eşliğinde demir bölgesine çekilmektedir. @UABakanligi @selimdursun06

— KEGM (@kiyiemniyet) May 28, 2021

RAVA, built in 2017, is registered in Croatia and was bound for Cartagena, Spain, according to global ship tracking intelligence. It's part of a fleet belonging to the company Tankerska Plovidba, which provides marine and coastal freight transportation services worldwide.

Newsweek attempted to contact Tankerska Plovidba and the state-owned KEGM on Friday but did not receive comment from either in time for publication.