Issue 06 2019-2020

Turkish Straits and Safety of Navigation: the Case of the Vitaspirit

by Selim CIGER

The Turkish Straits remain one of the most congested and perilous international waterways in the world. There have been a great number of incidents, resulting in physical damage, pollution and loss of life. A recent accident, where the bulk carrier ‘Vitaspirit’ suffered engine malfunction and crashed into the Bosporus coastline, has once again demonstrated the risks involved in passage through the Turkish Straits and led to a lively debate in Turkey regarding the possible solutions to improve navigational safety. This article reflects on and assesses the proposed solutions: it will be demonstrated that, whilst potentially helpful, some of the proposed measures have challenges, both legal and practical, and are unlikely to prove efficient in short term. There exist a few measures such as proliferation of stand-by tugs, which despite being relatively simple, carry a considerable potential of reducing the risk of accident. However, the costs involved in realizing such resolutions may act as an impediment to their eventual adoption. In light of these realities, the article also considers whether there are ways in which the financial burden of such measures could be alleviated under the existing legal framework governing the Turkish Straits.

MarSafeLawJournal_Issue 6_Ciger

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