Turkey owned merchant ship flying the flag of Tuvalu was arrested by Ukrainian authorities over a visit it made to a port in Crimea, reports Reuters. The ship's captain detained.
Tuvalu-registered 5,095 deadweight ton ship Kanton was being held in the Ukrainian port of Kherson. They said the crew could go to jail for up to three years and the ship could be seized.
Russian annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last
year, after Ukrainian protesters toppled a pro-Moscow president. Ukraine has said any visit to Crimean ports is illegal, and a ban came into effect in July last year.
Shipowners Istanbul company Master Shipping Ltd said: "This arrest was unlawful.
The Kanton called at Sevastopol in Crimea on July 24, 2014 to pick up a cargo of feed barley, he said.
Master Shipping said this was before Ukraine had notified international shipping companies and insurers of the ban, and that Ukrainian authorities had later acknowledged this and cleared the vessel to enter other ports.
According to the ship owners, none of the crew members were on board when it visited the Crimea.