The European Commission of the Danube and the Results of Its Technical and Administrative Activity on the Safety of Navigation, 1856–1914
International Journal of Maritime History, XXIII, No.1, pp. 73-94.
In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, Danube navigation encountered major problems which threatened the growing economies of the Romanian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, where the free ports of Galati (Galatz) and Braila (lbraila) had become important outlets for inexpensive grain. Western European merchants were extremely interested in trade with these autonomous states, which were under Turkish suzerainty and Russian protection. Yet from 1829, when by the Treaty of Adrianople Russia annexed the Danube Delta, they found river navigation quite inconvenient and accused the Russian authorities in Sulina (Soulina), the only navigable entrance connecting Galati and Braila with the Black Sea, of trying to block the Danube to favour the commerce of its own port, Odessa. Regardless of the truth of these charges, it is clear that navigation on the “Maritime Danube” (the 100-mile sector of the river that was navigable for sea-going vessels) became increasingly difficult because the entrance to Sulina was becoming blocked by silt.