Daily: Line of over 20 Russia-destined cargo ships wait off Estonian coast

Freighters anchored in the Gulf of Finland.
Freighters anchored in the Gulf of Finland. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

A maritime traffic jam involving over 20 vessels has built up off the Estonian coast, primarily consisting of freighters awaiting clearance to dock in the Russian Federation, daily Postimees reports.

Postimees reporters (link in Estonian) who had chartered a light aircraft for the purpose spotted on Sunday 21 vessels, likely destined for the port of Ust-Luga, in the area between the Käsmu peninsula on the Estonian side of the Gulf of Finland, and the Finnish coastal town of Porvoo, a figure which, the daily says, was slightly down on Saturday's number – 24.

Estonian authorities are powerless to act in relation to the vessels, anchored as close as 20km from the coast, as no specific violations have been found – though in the event of any mishap, pollution control is the responsibility of the Estonian agencies, the paper says.

The practice of anchoring in the affected zone dates back to a 2019 Russian ruling that once a vessel has entered Russian Federation waters, it must proceed to a Russian port and cannot anchor outside of Russian waters again – meaning a backlog of ships waiting to be processed leads to vessels waiting their turn outside of Russian waters, Postimees says.

The current conflict in Ukraine has in the meantime led to a surge in maritime traffic jams, principally involved in the export of Russian oil, sanctioned in the U.S. and, in part, in the EU, while Postimees reported that around half the 21 vessels appeared to be tankers and the other half container ships, sitting high up in the water – indicating they are empty – and facing west rather than east, likely relating to wind direction.

The original Postimees piece (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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