Romania Reports Mine Explosion as Efforts Seek to Expand Ukrainian Exports

Romania and Bulgaria increased patrols after mine exploded on the Romanian seashore on Monday (Romanian Navy 2022 file photo)

Published Aug 15, 2023 1:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Romanian’s Navy and Coast Guard confirmed that they believe a wayward mine exploded on the country’s seaside on Monday not far from the primary port of Constanta. News of the latest mine incident on the Black Sea came as Romanian government officials briefed Western reporters on their plans to expand Ukrainian exports by using Romania’s infrastructure along the Danube.

The explosion occurred Monday morning August 14 at around 9:00 a.m. in the coastal town of Costinesti, a resort area along the Black Sea south of Constanta. Navy divers were sent to inspect and they confirmed that a mine exploded along the seawall causing minor damage and no injuries. Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey have each dealt with mines that have drifted into the waters since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

The Romanian Navy reported that it deployed a ship and helicopter to the area after a possible sighting of a second mine in the area. They later dismissed the reports of another mine with some media saying the mine had been neutralized while others said it was a false report attributed to a log drifting in the water near the port of Mangalia, in the south near the border with Bulgaria.

After the reports, Bulgaria also increased its Black Sea patrols on Monday. They have a minesweeper regularly patrolling coastal waters.

Tensions have remained high in the region in the month since the Black Sea grain export deal ended. Russia has been seeking to increase its blockade on the Ukrainian seaports with attacks on both the Odesa region and Ukraine’s Danube ports of Izmail and Reni. Russia is believed to have also laid mines near the approaches to the ports and over the weekend shot at and boarded a Palau-registered ship in the Black Sea. 

Today, Ukraine’s southern command reported that they believe Russia now has 12 active warships operating from its bases in the Azov Sea. They said reconnaissance however did not locate any missile carriers in the active fleet. 

With the support of the European Union, Romania is looking to possibly double exports moving through its ports and especially grain from Ukraine. Reuters reports during a briefing Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said Romania was preparing to increase to four million tonnes of grain a month from the current two million tonnes, primarily using routes on the Danube.

Improvements are being made to the Sulina channel which connects the Danube to Constanta. This will be in addition to the exports moving from the Romanian ports of Galati and Braila. Ukraine has asked Romania to support a minimum of 14 vessels per day. Romania’s Danube administration is increasing the number of pilots for the Danube and Sulina to 60 and with EU funding expects to be able to handle nighttime traffic on the Sulina channel.

Romania reports that Constanta has already dramatically increased its exports. Cereals represented the largest weight of cargo moving through the port in 2022 with total traffic in Romania’s ports up 12 percent to over 75 million tonnes in 2022. Of the nearly 12 million tones of goods coming from Ukraine, 6.4 million tonnes moved by sea in 2022 while 5.4 million tonnes were river traffic. The goal is to increase the movement of goods on the river away from Russian intervention and exceed 2022 export levels that were already the largest in the history of Romania’s seaports.