Ukraine is one of the world’s top producers of agricultural crops including sunflowers, barley, rapeseed, corn and wheat.
While the 2022 harvest will already be significantly smaller than in previous years, the blockade of the Ukrainian Black Sea - where normally up to 95% of the production is exported from - meant that the shipment of the harvest would be in jeopardy with serious consequences for the world's food supply and for the income of the Ukrainian people.
On 22nd July (just in time for the start of the harvest season) a deal between Ukraine and Russia was brokered by the United Nations that allows the export of crops through secured routes across the Black Sea.
The Razoni, a cargo ship flying the Sierra Leonean flag, was the first ship to depart the port of Odesa on 1st August loaded with 26,000 tonnes of maize. Initially the ship was destined for Tripoli, Lebanon, intended to help alleviate the food crisis currently experienced by the country.
Using acquisitions from our very high resolution Pléiades Neo satellite combined with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, we are able to track progress of the ship across open oceans. The Razoni can easily be identified in satellite imagery by the blue and red colour of the ship's hull, its length and width, as well as the four large white cranes visible on its deck.
With its 30cm resolution highly detailed imagery and multi-revisit capabilities, Pléiades Neo brings a new level of effective maritime surveillance. Pléiades Neo is ideal for maritime security and environmental applications such as identifying illegal activities/routes, trafficking, oil spill monitoring and illegal fishing.
31st July, 2022
This Pléiades Neo image acquired on 31st July over the port of Odesa shows the Razoni still moored at its berth.
The image also shows several other grain ships, destined to leave the port in the coming days including the NAVI STAR and the RIVA WIND.
3rd August, 2022
After leaving Odesa port on 1st August, the Razoni was expected to reach Tripoli on the morning of 7th August.
On 3rd August, the ship is spotted anchoring near Rumelifeneri, Turkey, at the Bosporus Straight exit of the Black Sea, where it was being inspected.
Here the ship came to a stand-still as the end buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the shipment due to the more than 5 months delay in the delivery terms. Thus the merchandise was put up for sale by the owner, which left the further destination of the ship unclear at this piont.
7th August, 2022
Eventually the ship continued its journey across the Mediterranean Sea along the Turkish coast. On 7th August, the Razoni can be found anchored South of Karatas, Turkey.
9th August, 2022
On 9th August, the Razoni can be seen anchored South of Mersin, where it stayed several days, presumably while the new destination of the corn was being finalised.
On 11th August, the ship finally entered Mesrin harbour, which led observers assume that a new buyer had been found in Turkey and the maize would be unloaded here.
17th August, 2022
But instead of unloading its cargo (only 1,500 tonnes of its corn cargo were offloaded in Mesrin), the Razoni left the harbour again and continued its voyage. On 12th August, the ship switched off its AIS beacon near Cyprus.
At this point, there were several possibilities for the ships next destination, including Syria, were assumed by observers. The Pléiades Neo acquisition of Tartus harbour on 17th August, finally showed the destination of the Razoni.
The ship proceeded to unload its cargo here, as can be seen by the activities in the berth and one of the cargo holds already being empty.
Last week was about the Razoni’s journey, leaving Odesa’s harbour for the first grain exportation since the agreement. Today, let’s have a look at its pairs: Navi Star and Riva Wind cargo ships both starting from Odesa. To retrace the respective journey of each ship, let us go through the dates.