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Turkey foresees fewer ships on Bosporus Strait

Turkey said it has no plans to block passage through the Bosporus. But it believes the canal, which would link the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara further west of Istanbul, would attract ships that the prime minister said lose about $1.4 billion annually by waiting at either end of the Bosporus for permission to cross through.

Ships coming from the Black Sea wend their way through the 31-kilometer (20-mile) Bosporus and its 12 turns, emerge in the Sea of Marmara and sail through the Dardanelles into the Mediterranean. Problems are less serious in the Dardanelles, a strait that is wider, has less treacherous currents and much less local boat traffic.

About 150 big ships transit the Bosporus each day, including up to 15 oil tankers, and many of them are Russian. They share a waterway that is generally only about 1,000 yards (meters) wide with tugs, coast guard cutters, fishing boats, cruise ships, ferries, yachts, pilot boats, water taxis.

The Bosporus, lined up with palaces, mosques and wooden mansions, has been the site of numerous accidents over the decades. In 1994, a ship collision killed 29 seamen and spilled nearly 100,000 barrels of oil into the waterway. The passage was closed for a week, backing up hundreds of ships at either end.

The new canal would have no sharp turns unlike the Bosporus, Soluk said. The Canal Istanbul would be 500-feet-wide (150-meter) and safer to navigate.

Erdogan said he hoped the project would turn the Bosporus into a recreational waterway like the Golden Horn, once plied by the imperial boats of the Ottoman sultans. The Golden Horn flows into the Bosporus and was once described by the Ottoman poets as "Sadabad" or "place of bliss."

Once, a giant iron chain stretched across the mouth of the Golden Horn to keep invading forces off the bay.

In 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II could not break the chain. But he earned the title "Conqueror" when he used animal and human power to pull some 70 ships over a nearby hill on oiled pieces of wood and into the Horn — defeating a stunned Byzantine fleet and capturing Istanbul for the Turks.




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