The Liman, which is part of the Kremlin’s Black Sea Fleet, was hit by the Togo-flagged Youzarsif-H cargo ship, according to Turkey’s coastal safety authority. The incident occurred just before midday local time Thursday, 25 miles northwest of the Bosphorus Strait and 18 miles north of the coast of Turkey. Turkish shipping agency GAC said the collision was caused by fog and low visibility.
Russian news agency Tass reported there was no damage to the Youzarsif-H ship, which was carrying livestock, and the crew did not request help. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to express his sadness over the collision.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet uses the Bosphorus Strait, which cuts through Istanbul, as a route to the Mediterranean where it operates, principally off the coast of Syria.
“The ship Liman sank from holes below the waterline. All the crew members of the Black Sea Fleet’s research vessel Liman are safe and sound and are preparing for evacuation from a Turkish rescue vessel to a Russian ship,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, naming the ship as the Ashot-7. Initial media reports had suggested that 15 crew members were missing.
The Liman, launched in 1970 as a research vessel, had been retrofitted by the Russian navy as a reconnaissance ship. It stations near Sevastopol in Crimea, and according to the kchf.ru naval website, it has made regular visits to the Syrian port of Tartus in recent years.
Earlier this year, sources speaking to Russian media said the Liman would be used to monitor Nato’s Sea Shield exercises.