The rusty ship was towed to the Black Sea port of Constanta, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Bucharest, before dawn Wednesday.
Authorities initially spotted the ship outside Romanian territorial waters on Tuesday morning. It sent a distress signal and two coast guard boats were dispatched, but high waves and winds hampered rescue efforts at sea before the ship was towed to port.
Migrants are increasingly trying to cross the Black Sea from Turkey to reach Romania. Last weekend, coast guard forces from Romania and Bulgaria intercepted 217 migrants in the Black Sea in two boats who were suspected of trying to illegally enter Romania.
Krzysztof Borowski, a spokesman for the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, told The Associated Press, that “smugglers are testing this route with the Black Sea,” and that it was “an attempt to revive the route.” In 2014, he said some 430 migrants used the route, but that fell the following year to 68 and just one in 2016.
Any new influx of migrants through the Black Sea could further exacerbate political strains within the European Union over the issue.
On Sept, 3, Romania‘s coastguard stopped a fishing vessel carrying 87 migrants in the Black Sea sailing toward the Romanian coast. And last month, the coast guard halted a fishing boat carrying 70 migrants suspected of trying to illegally enter Romania.