A Russian cargo ship’s request to dock at a Maine port to offload tons of petroleum-based products was rejected for a “series of reasons,” the director of the port said.
The request came on short notice March 3 — one week after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, Eastport Port Authority Executive Director Chris Gardner told McClatchy News over the phone.
“Obviously the implications of the Russian situation weighed heavily upon us,” Gardner said.
The vessel sailing under the Russian flag, called the Fesco Uliss, was first barred from docking at a Canadian port along the St. Lawrence Seaway, he noted. The Eastport port is the closest U.S. port south of the seaway.
Along with Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the ship was also turned away from the port in Maine because officials only gave a four day notice before it was docked, Gardner said.
He added that much of a short notice is not “unheard of” within the industry, but it’s “not very common.”
Additionally, the product the ship was carrying — 8,000 tons of a petroleum-based product called solid pitch — was not something the Eastport location had dealt with in the past, according to Gardner.
The docking request came in from global logistics company J.S. Connor on behalf of the ship, Gardner said, and the port hasn’t done business with either the shipping line or the company before.
J.S. Connor did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
“So based upon all of that, and again, making not light of the Russian situation, obviously, we just realized it’s not in the best interest of anyone involved for us to accept this vessel,” Gardner said.
Before the ship arrived in Canada, it appeared to come from a port in Germany, according to Gardner.
Public ship tracking information shows it departed from Brunsbüttel, Germany, on Feb. 17, days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, according to Vessel Finder. Before that, it first came from Saint Petersburg, Russia.
It started heading to the Dominican Republic after getting turned away from the U.S., according to Vessel Tracker and Vessel Finder. It was expected to arrive at the port of Santo Domingo on March 14.
Eastport port has operated for 40 years and seen ships come in from all over the world, including from Russia, Gardner said.
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