Marine Link
Monday, October 16, 2017

Arctic Ocean

More Chinese Ships to Use Arctic Route

Photo:  LaRouche PAC

 China will send more ships flying its flag to take the Northwest Passage via the Arctic Ocean to cut travel times between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, says the state news agency Xinhua.   The world's largest maritime carrier China COSCO Shipping Corporation will send more cargo vessels on Arctic voyages through the Northeast Passage. COSCO's freighter Yongsheng set out Saturday in northern port city of Tianjin for Britain.   The ship will travel through the Arctic Ocean shipping route for the third time following voyages in 2015 and 2013, when it became China's first commercial vessel to explore the Northeast Passage.   At least two more huge freighters will travel on the route in August in separate voyages, said the company.   An Arctic trip can be shortened by one third of the conventional Malacca-Suez route. The COSCO said the Arctic shipping route will promote China-Europe trade.   Shorter shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean would save Chinese companies time and money. For example, the journey from Shanghai to Hamburg via the Arctic route is 2,800 nautical miles shorter than going by the Suez Canal.  

Canada Embarks on Arctic Survey Mission

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent  (File photo: Canadian Coast Guard)

Canada has launched its 2016 Arctic expedition to collect important scientific information to support the nation’s submission on the extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. This year’s survey is a collaborative effort with Sweden, and Danish scientists will also participate in the research.   The Canadian icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent left Dartmouth on July 22, 2016, for Tromsø, Norway

Two Seattle-based Coast Guard Divers die in Arctic Ocean

Accoring to reports, two Seattle-based Coast Guard divers died Thursday while diving in the Arctic Ocean, about 500 miles north of Barrow, Alaska. Lt. Jessica Hill, 30, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque, 26, of Miami, were assigned to the Cutter Healy. The ship was on a scientific mission when the deaths occurred, according to the Coast Guard. Hill and Duque were on a practice dive familiarizing themselves with the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean

Chinese Icebreaker Transits Northern Sea Route

Photo credit:antarctica.gov.au

The icebreaker 'Xuelong' made the Arctic Ocean passage from China through to Norwegian waters. The Chinese icebreaker completed the Arctic North-East Passage marking the first such voyage by a Chinese vessel and opening an Arctic route connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic for future Chinese science expeditions. In completing the voyage, the icebreaker Xuelong or Snow Dragon channeled through five marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean: the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Laptev Sea

Arctic Whitening Might Help Ice But Not Climate

Image by Carnegie Institution for Science

 The attempt to artificially whiten the surface of the Arctic Ocean and offset climate change will not be able to reduce global temperatures substantially. It could in principle help restore some amount of sea ice, says a research based on model configurations.   It has been proposed that disastrous climate effects could be offset by technological approaches, broadly called geoengineering. One geoengineering proposal is to artificially whiten the surface of the Arctic Ocean in

Sea Ice Plays Pivotal Role in Arctic Methane Cycle

Sea ice forms a natural barrier on the Central Arctic Ocean, limiting gas exchange between water and atmosphere Courtesy AWI

  The ice-covered Arctic Ocean is a more important factor concerning the concentration of the greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere than previously assumed. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) report on the newly discovered interactions between the atmosphere, sea ice and the ocean in a recent online study in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Samsung Wins Tanker Contract

According to a Korea Herald report, Samsung Heavy Industries Co. won a $422.5 million deal to build three arctic tankers for Russian state-owned shipper Sovcomflot. Samsung is the first Korean shipbuilder to receive an order for ice-breaking oil-carriers. Sovcomflot plans to operate the artic tankers over the Barents Sea between the Varandiy oil well in the Arctic Ocean and Murmansk harbor in Russia, according to the report

Navy Submarines Begin Arctic Ocean Exercises

Arctic-bound USS New Mexico: USN official photo

Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) and Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 767) have commenced Ice Exercise 2014 (ICEX 2014) in the Arctic Ocean, says Commander,  US Submarine Forces. "In keeping with the Department of Defense's Arctic Objectives, the Submarine Force uses Ice Exercises to prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies," said Capt. Paul Whitescarver

Russia, US Agree on Arctic Fishing Ban

Photo: NOAA

Five nations set moratorium on fishing near North Pole; no fish there now, but thaw is drawing stocks north. The United States, Russia and other Arctic nations signed an agreement deal on Thursday to bar their fishing fleets from fast-thawing seas around the North Pole, an agreement delayed more than a year by tensions over Ukraine. The accord, also signed in Oslo by the ambassadors of Canada, Norway and Denmark, is a response to global warming

Russia Submits Vast Arctic Territory Claims to UN

Map by  National Snow and Ice Data Center

 Russia has submitted its bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations, AP reported as the Foreign Ministry saying.   The ministry said in a statement that Russia is claiming 1.2 million square kilometres (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650 kilometres) from the shore.   It said the bid contains new arguments. “Ample scientific data collected in years of Arctic research are used to back the

Arctic Thaw helps Russian Shipping

File Image ((c) Paul Brown)

Arctic thaw aids shipping most along Russian coast; Russia to start LNG exports from Yamal in late 2017.   Russian shipping in the Arctic is benefiting from winds that are driving the oldest and thickest sea ice towards North America, further opening a remote region that is thawing amid global warming, scientists say.   The thinning Russian ice could help liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, due to start exports from Russia's Yamal Peninsula in late 2017

US Navy Buoys into the Arctic Ocean

An Air-Deployable Expendable Ice Buoy is deployed in the high Arctic near the North Pole from a Royal Danish Air Force C-130 aircraft operating out of Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, as part of the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP). Photo: United States Navy

 The U.S National Ice Center (USNIC) in coordination with the Office of Naval Research, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, the Danish Joint Arctic Command, Environmental and Climate Change Canada and University of Washington deployed buoys into the Arctic Ocean during a joint mission.  The joint mission was conducted to collect weather and oceanographic data to enhance forecasting and environmental models thereby reducing operational risk for assets in the Arctic.  

Artists Pay Tribute to Historic Russian Icebreaker

(Photo: Rosatomflot)

Graffiti depicting nuclear icebreaker Arktika appeared in Murmansk   In 1977 Russian nuclear icebreaker Arktika became the world's first surface ship to reach the North Pole. Now 40 years later, a depiction of the historic vessel is a main component of a graffiti style art installation in Murmansk, Russia.   Arktika was in service from 1975 to 2008 under the operation of Atomflot, who said six artists, four designers and one operator contributed to the creation of the 600 square

Man Medevaced from Chinese Research Vessel near Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard photo

 Man Medevaced from Chinese Research Vessel near Alaska   A man with a broken arm was medevaced from the Chinese research vessel Xue Long, 15 nautical miles from Nome, Alaska, Saturday morning.   A smallboat crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley embarked the man and transferred him to the Alex Haley for further transfer to Nome.   Coast Guard District 17 command center watchstanders received a relay notification from a Coast Guard liaison to China who

Litter Levels in the Arctic Depths On the Rise

Map FRAM (Graphic Thomas Soltwedel)

The Arctic has a serious litter problem: in just ten years, the concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea station in the Arctic Ocean has risen 20-fold. This was recently reported in a study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Plastic bags, glass shards and fishing nets: despite its location, far from any urban areas, the amount of litter in the depths of the Arctic Ocean continues to rise

Arctic Sea Ice May Vanish Even If World Achieves Climate Goal

© Andreas Altenburger / Adobe Stock

Arctic sea ice may vanish in summers this century even if governments achieve a core target for limiting global warming set by almost 200 nations in 2015, scientists said on Monday.   Arctic sea ice has been shrinking steadily in recent decades, damaging the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and wildlife such as polar bears while opening the region to more shipping and oil and gas exploration.   Under the 2015 Paris Agreement

Arctic Ice Loss Driven by Natural Swings, Not Just Mankind -Study

© z576 / Adobe Stock

Natural swings in the Arctic climate have caused up to half the precipitous losses of sea ice around the North Pole in recent decades, with the rest driven by man-made global warming, scientists said on Monday.   The study indicates that an ice-free Arctic Ocean, often feared to be just years away, in one of the starkest signs of man-made global warming, could be delayed if nature swings back to a cooler mode.  

OP/Ed: Obama’s Arctic Decision Undercut His Own Legacy

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

On December 20, 2016, in an 11th hour unilateral action designed to cement his environmental legacy, President Obama withdrew 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean (including the entire Chukchi Sea and a significant portion of the Beaufort Sea) from future oil and gas leasing. Unlike the five year moratoria announced by Canada, President Obama touted these closures as “permanent

Arctic Ice Sets New Record Low for Winter

Photo: NOAA

The extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has set a new record low for the wintertime in a region strongly affected by long-term trends of global warming, U.S. and European scientists said on Wednesday.   Sea ice around the North Pole expands to its biggest extent of the year in February or March after a deep freeze in the winter polar darkness and shrinks to the smallest of the year in September, at the end of the brief Arctic summer.  

New LNG Tanker Forges Path for Arctic Shipping

Photo: Sovcomflot

An ice-breaking tanker docked for the first time at Russia's Arctic port of Sabetta to test a new route that could open the ice-bound Arctic Ocean to ships carrying oil and liquefied gas.   The route is eagerly anticipated by energy firms that want to develop resources in the Arctic but face obstacles in getting oil and gas from remote and freezing fields to world markets.   Environmental activists fear commercial shipping in the Arctic -- now possible because climate change has

The Icebergs Are Coming: Shipping in the North Atlantic

Distance has to be kept: Icebergs can harm the ships. The only ships coming consciously close to the icebergs are cruisers with ice class. The picture is taken off one of them, the Hanseatic from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. (Photo: Hapag-Lloyd)

 At present, several icebergs are drifting out of the Arctic Ocean and into the North Atlantic. This natural phenomenon occurs each year in the period roughly stretching between April and August. During this season, these massive chunks of ice cross the major shipping routes on the North Atlantic. But German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd is prepared for them, as the company’s captains keep their vessels south of the drift ice limit so as to avoid any dangerous collisions.  

Melting Sea Ice: A Canary in the Coal Mine

© André Gilden / Adobe Stock

The rapid loss of Arctic sea ice is a sentinel. Most of us will never venture into the Arctic, but it can and does provide us with a forewarning of impacts coming to our parts of the Earth – and some of the most significant impacts will directly affect the maritime industry.   In earlier times, coal miners were sometimes overcome by the buildup of odorless carbon monoxide gas. Some died as a consequence. Eventually it was realized that canaries were more susceptible to the gas

Ocean Conservancy Calls for Clean Arctic

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

 The following statement was issued by Sarah Bobbe, Arctic Program Specialist at Ocean Conservancy, at the conclusion today of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee meeting where member states supported a proposal to identify mitigation measures for heavy fuel oil (HFO) use in the Arctic:    “Ocean Conservancy welcomes steps taken by the International Maritime Organization to mitigate risks to the Arctic from the use

First of Yamal LNG Tankers Starts Navigation via the NSR

Christophe de Margerie. Photo: Total

 The first Arc7 ice-class LNG tanker “Christophe de Margerie” has entered the Kara Sea and has started its first LNG cargo voyage through the Northern Sea Route (NSR).    The subleased tanker will go through the NSR without the escort of icebreakers and will deliver LNG from Norway to South Korea in 15 days.   The utilization of the route from Europe to Eastern and South-Eastern Asia through the NSR halves the transportation time to market compared to the

Afloat on a Frigid Frontier

Crew members aboard Coast Guard Cutter Maple stand lookout watch in the Arctic Ocean approximately 100 miles east of Barrow, Alaska, July 25, 2017. This was the first day of the patrol the crew encountered ice. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Nate Littlejohn)

Located 100 miles northwest of Barrow, Alaska, the crew of the 225-foot buoy tender out of Sitka was on a mission to support marine mammal research conducted by Josh Jones, a graduate student researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in San Diego.   The Coast Guard crew used their buoy-tending skills and equipment to recover the floating ball, which surfaced after spending a year 1,000 feet below

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