As noted, the ship was loaded in Syria and sailed with a Russian Navy escort. It’s expected to unload in Novorossiysk, Russia, a base heavily involved in the Ukraine invasion.
The Bosporus Straits running through Istanbul and Turkish sovereign waters are reportedly closed to warships due to the Ukraine war. Russia has used merchant vessels and auxiliaries to move war supplies via the straits.
Per Naval News, the Sparta IV is one of the four vessels owned by SC South LLC, a shipping firm based in Russia. The latter is involved in transporting military equipment. The firm and the vessel have reportedly been sanctioned by the US government under the Specially Designated Nationals list (SDN) following the war in Ukraine.
Russian media earlier reported that the vessel reached the city of Tartus with humanitarian aid. This followed the devastating earthquake that took place on 6 February. The aid was transported in shipping containers on the deck. After that, the vessel was loaded at Tartus, in Russia’s naval base.
Before entering the Bosporus, the vessel was observed on 1 March 2023, sailing in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, far away from Tartus. The ship seemed to be escorted by a Russian designation Navy Project 20380, the Steregushchiy class missile corvette.
References: Naval News
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