Iranian Container Ship Blacklisted By The US, Set To Depart Turkish Port

An Iranian container ship that has been stranded in a Turkish port for three years is about to depart, demonstrating the reach — and the limits — of sanctions at sea.

The 187-meter-long container vessel Shamim has been sitting vacant in Istanbul’s port of Haydarpasa since January 2021, in full view of the hundreds of commuters and visitors who use the ferry between the city’s European and Asian sides every day.

Per two maritime industry sources with knowledge of the situation, Shamim experienced an engine failure off Spain’s coast in late 2020 and was towed roughly 3,500 kilometres to Istanbul.


Video Credit: Patrick Sykes/Twitter

The Iran-flagged vessel has reportedly been sanctioned since 2020 as part of measures aimed at squeezing the Iranian economy and impeding its nuclear ambitions. In January 2021, Washington sanctioned Shamim’s beneficial owner, Hafez Darya Arya Shipping, characterizing it as a subsidiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

Iran claims that its nuclear effort is for peaceful uses, not nuclear weapons. The stated link between IRISL and Hafez Darya Arya Shipping could not be verified. Both companies did not reply to requests for comment.

Companies who want to do business with sanctioned companies without facing penalties can request exemptions in the United States. It’s unclear whether the Istanbul port officials sought or were given permission to accommodate Shamim.

Turkish State Railways, which manages Haydarpasa, and the Turkish Transport Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Last month, Treasury under Secretary Brian Nelson requested Istanbul shipping businesses for help in blocking what he called an “uptick” of US-sanctioned Russian vessels utilizing Turkish ports. He cautioned that companies that offer services to such vessels risk being sanctioned, but he did not name any specific companies.

Despite the hazards, Turkey remains an appealing site for many Iranians to do business due to its proximity, visa-free travel, and linkages to the global banking system. Following years of decline, commerce between nations has been increasing since 2020, making Turkey the Islamic Republic’s second-largest export market, per Bloomberg data.

Shamim’s owner attempted to sell it to local shipyards but was unable to find a buyer due to sanctions, according to two persons familiar with the negotiations.

Repair efforts with Iranian specialists became tough due to the degree of the damage and the difficulties in getting parts for a blacklisted vessel, per others. Shamim ran tests on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for its departure, one of them said.

Per Turkey’s government document that was seen by Bloomberg, the vessel was fined four times for mechanical changes performed without the required consent from port authorities.

Shamim was racking up port fees of about $1,200 every day, explained one of the witnesses. This amounts to almost $1.3 million since its introduction.

Reference: Bloomberg

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Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

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