EASTPORT — A Russian vessel carrying 8,000 tons of a petroleum-derived product was denied a request to dock at the easternmost tip of the United States.

The ship’s operator asked on March 3 to dock in Eastport after being turned away from a port on the St. Lawrence Seaway by the Canadian government because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fishing boats line the shore in Eastport in August 2021. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Eastport ultimately rejected the short-notice request from the ship.

“We looked at it and decided, for the totality of issues, it was not in our best interests” to allow the 2004-built cargo ship, called the Fesco Uliss, to tie up in Eastport, said Chris Gardner, executive director of the Eastport Port Authority.

Gardner said the vessel’s crew told port officials that they “had issues” with a planned stop on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada and asked if Eastport could take them for a few days.

“In this industry, that’s extremely short (notice),” Gardner said, “(and) there were a lot of unknowns.”


The Fesco Uliss was carrying bags of solid pitch, a petroleum-based product used in industry, but Gardner said Eastport had never handled that material before. The ship also was asking about warehouse space, he said, meaning it was unclear when and where the product would go once it was offloaded in Maine.

The short notice, the material, the uncertainty over the cargo’s destination and the fact that President Biden had announced sanctions against Russian businesses just days before because of the invasion of Ukraine all factored in the decision to deny the ship permission to tie up, Gardner said.

Business at the port has been slow due to the impact on shipping by the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “and it’s not that we wouldn’t have welcomed the business,” but the unknowns led to the decision to refuse to allow the ship to use the port.

He said a ship asking to use the port when it was headed elsewhere is not unheard of, but is not a common practice.

“It does happen, just not very often,” Gardner said.

The Fesco Uliss is classified as a general cargo ship. It operates under the Russian flag and is home-ported in Vladivostok, Russia, according to the website marinetraffic.com, which tracks shipping around the world.

As of Tuesday afternoon, marinetraffic.com said the Fesco Uliss was a short distance off the port city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Gardner said he knew that was where the ship was headed after being denied access to the port at Eastport, but he doesn’t know if it stopped anywhere else along the way.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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