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Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey

By The Siberian Times reporter
17 January 2017

Vessels could be marooned 'for a week' in East Siberian Sea after getting caught in thick ice.

Stuck in the East Siberian Sea. Picture: Alexander Samsonychev 

Bulk carriers Sinegorsk and Johann Mahmastal made a successful midwinter cargo crossing from Arkhangelsk to Russia's northernmost port of Pevek, Chukotka, escorted by icebreakers Kapitan Dranitsyn and Admiral Makarov.

It was the first such crossing since Soviet times, and the ships delivered supplies for the supplies for the world's first floating heat and power plant to be assembled in Chukotka after a journey lasting from 14 December to 7 January. 

The ease of the sailing is seen as a sign that climate warming in the Arctic can open up shopping lanes even in midwinter. But the climate remains unpredictable as the four vessels have discovered on their return route. 

They are currently trapped by sudden thick ice around Chukotka's northernmost cape Shelagsky, some 24 nautical miles from Pevek, in some of Russia's most exposed waters. 

Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 
The icebreakers made a historic voyage all along the Northern Sea Route. Pictures: Alexander Samsonychev 


Ruslan Nazarov, chief of Chukotka's emergencies service, said: 'The ice around Cape Shelagsky is at 10 points. The ice fields are more than one metre thick. The ice compression is strong and hummocks are higher than 2.5 metres. 

'The decision about navigating the ships will be taken within the next couple of days. 

'A helicopter will assist in getting them out.'

The aim of the aerial reconnaissance is to find the best path for the icebreakers to lead out the cargo vessels. 

Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 


Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 
Bringing supplies for the world's first nuclear heat and power station. Pictures here and below: Alexander Samsonychev 


The situation is not critical, Nazarov said, stressing that the regional ministry of emergencies and Chukotka government keep a close eye on it. 

'The captain of Admiral Makarov icebreaker admits that the situation is complicated, yet he is very optimistic about them getting through the ice within a week's time.

'All the ships have enough fuel, food and all other necessities.'

The delivered cargo was to construct a quay wall for the floating heat and power plant, which is due for completion next year. 

Icebreakers make historic Arctic voyage, then get stuck in frozen sea on return journey 

Comments (3)

Weather and sea ice conditions are always subject to change and must be dealt with as they arise. Several voyages aboard i/b Kapitan Klebnikov provided some insight into why and how conditions are coped with while not expending excessive fuel.
Paul Larsen, Illinois, USA
25/01/2017 02:40
1
0
хорошо! Remarkable accomplishments by Russian maritime service! The Pevek power station will also be remarkable - I hope it is widely publicized when operational.
John McClaughry, Vermont, USA
24/01/2017 01:36
0
0
could have been avoided with proper Situational awareness - Narwhal
Peter, Edinburgh
18/01/2017 16:40
0
0
1

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