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Ships traffic on Sulina channel, Chilia arm doubles in last years

The number of ships that transited the Sulina sea channel and the Chilia branch of the Danube last year was at least twice as high as the one in the year before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, but despite all this, the number of naval events in the compared period was almost equal, according to an information sent by the Romanian Naval Authority (ANR).

Thus, if in 2021, 2,003 ships transited the Sulina maritime channel and the Chilia branch of the Danube, the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in 2022 their number reached 3,815, and last year, 4,523 ships.

In the compared period, in the year 2021, according to the Report on navigational events published on the ANR website, within the area of Tulcea county, which also includes the Tulcea arm next to the two mentioned waterways, 13 events were recorded, while in 2022, there were 18 events only on the Sulina channel and the Chilia arm, and last year their number was 14.

On the Sulina sea channel, the number of serious accidents decreased from two in 2022 to zero last year, less serious accidents also decreased from five in 2022 to four in 2023, and of the incidents from eight in 2022 to four last year.

However, on the Chilia arm of the Danube, the number of events increased. Thus, in 2022, ANR recorded one less serious naval accident and two incidents, while last year three less serious accidents and three incidents were reported.

The decrease in the number of events involving maritime and navigation vessels on inland waters was explained by the ANR management through the measures taken by the Lower Danube River Administration (AFDJ) from Galati to improve the safety of vessels.

"In the context of the increase in traffic values, AFDJ Galati took measures to improve the floating signaling on the waterway by placing additional buoys on the Maritime Danube, between the Sulina bar (the place where the Danube flows into the Black Sea, on the Sulina channel, ed. n.) and Braila, thus facilitating transit both during the day and during the night. At the same time, the crew of pilots was supplemented and the operation of the intervention tugs in the maritime Danube ports was maintained," the address signed by the general director of the ANR, Cosmin Laurentiu Dumitrache, reads.

According to the source, the events produced in the last two years have resulted only in material damage, without victims, pollution or blockages of the navigable channel, mostly being failures, approaches caused by technical causes or as a result of vigilance measures inadequate to the regime of navigation, as stipulated in the Danube Navigation Regulation.

"We note that no event occurring on the Sulina channel or on the Chilia arm has any connection with the armed conflict in the region,"the ANR address says.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the transit of ships on the Danube has increased in the context in which the Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea were blocked by Russia, and the river was one of the main routes for the export of grain from Ukraine.

The Sulina maritime channel is the first navigation route on the Danube from the territory of Romania recognized by an international treaty and the only navigable channel in the Delta, and transit of the maritime Danube is only possible if there is a pilot of AFDJ Galati on board the vessel.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the traffic of ships on the Chilia branch of the Danube has increased, only from the beginning of the year until Wednesday, February 21, registering a serious accident, resulting in the failure of a ship, and an incident.

From the beginning of the year until Wednesday, February 21, 500 ships transited the Sulina channel and the Chilia branch, according to ANR.