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Arctic Operations News

23 Dec 2022

Polar POD Project Enters Shipyard Construction Phase in France

Illustration Polar POD © N. Gagnon

Ifremer, Jean-Louis Etienne and the entire Polar POD team announced its construction by the Piriou shipyards in association with 3C Metal, under the direction of the project owner, Ifremer. The scientific program of this international oceanographic "station" is being overseen by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS), in partnership with the French National Centre for Space Studies (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales…

15 Feb 2022

Russia Kicks Off Naval Drills in the Barents Sea

(Photo: Russian Ministry of Defense)

Some 20 ships from Russia's Northern fleet have commence naval drills in the Barents Sea, Russia's Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday.The "planned" exercise in the Arctic waters between Russia and Norway includes surface ships, submarines, boats and fleet support vessels, as well as more than 10 Russian aircraft. The ships will fire at sea and air targets using artillery, anti-submarine weapons and electronic warfare equipment.The exercises are the latest a string on Russian naval drills performed recently amid fears that Russia may invade Ukraine.

11 Feb 2022

MOL Nets Charter in Russia for New Ice-breaking Condensate Carrier

Illustration only - ©Mikhail Perfilov/AdobeStock

Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has signed a charter contract for a newbuilding ice-breaking tanker that will transport condensate from the Arctic LNG 2 Project on Russia’s Gydan Peninsula.The contract was signed by a MOL subsidiary with the project company, whose largest shareholder is Russia-based PAO NOVATEK. The vessel,  slated for delivery in 2024, will be constructed in China by Guangzhou Shipyard International Company, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC).

31 Jan 2022

Cool Summer: Northern Sea Route Remains Closed for the First Time in 12 Years

Credit: Weathernews

Weathernews Inc. Global Ice Center announced its review of Arctic Ocean sea ice conditions during 2021. Due to the cool summer temperatures in July 2021, sea ice did not see much melt and the minimum sea ice area for the year was the largest in the past seven years at 4.61 million km2.Weathernews Inc. Global Ice Center said Monday that both the Northeast (Russian side) and the Northwest (Canadian side) Passages of the Northern Sea Route remained closed. This is the first time in 12 years since 2009 that the Northeast Passage did not open.

26 Jan 2022

The Arctic: Scientists Aim to Improve Sea Ice Predictions' Accuracy, Access

Residents of Utqiagvik return by snowmachine from the lead at the edge of the shore-fast ice. Photo by Andy Mahoney, UAF Geophysical Institute

Sea ice predictions have improved markedly since the founding of an international forecasting and monitoring network 14 years ago.“These forecasts are quite encouraging in their increasing accuracy,” said Uma Bhatt, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Bhatt spoke about the Sea Ice Prediction Network at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting last month.As the amount of sea ice in the Arctic declines, thins and becomes more mobile…

23 Dec 2021

UAF’s GINA Provides a Guiding Hand in Arctic Ocean Research

The Sikuliaq, a 261-ft. ice-capable research vessel operated by UAF, pauses in the Arctic Ocean in June 2021 during its fifth year of operation. Photo by Ethan Roth

The research vessel Sikuliaq navigated among and around the chunks and slabs of Arctic sea ice above Alaska for several weeks on two voyages this fall, breaking through frozen slabs when it had to, just as its sturdy hull is designed to do. It's now on a third trip.The Sikuliaq, a 261-ft. ice-capable research vessel operated by UAF, pauses in the Arctic Ocean in June 2021 during its fifth year of operation. A few months later, it traveled farther north than ever before — almost 500 miles beyond Point Barrow.Satellite imagery produced at the Geographic Information Network of Alaska…

23 Sep 2021

Arctic Shipping Requires New Ways to Manage Risks

© Silver/AdobeStock

In February 2021, LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie, escorted by a nuclear icebreaker, became the first large-capacity cargo vessel to transit the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The voyage demonstrated that year-round safe navigation is possible along the entire length of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).In the last five years, cargo traffic along the NSR has grown almost fivefold, reaching 33 million tons in 2020. Last year, there were 64 voyages on the NSR compared with 37 in 2019.

01 Sep 2021

New Ship Repair Cluster Coming to Russia’s Far East

Sergey Tseluyko, Managing Director of Zvezda (left), and Igor Tonkovidov, President and CEO of Sovcomflot (right), signing keel laying statement during the ceremony. (Photo: Zvezda)

A group of Russian maritime stakeholders have agreed to develop ship repair cluster in the country’s Far East.The trilateral agreement between PAO Sovcomflot, SMART LNG (a joint venture between PAO Sovcomflot and PAO NOVATEK) and Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC, a subsidiary of Rosneft) was signed by: Andrey Shishkin, CEO of FESRC and Vice-President for Energy, Localization and Innovation of Rosneft; Igor Tonkovidov, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sovcomflot, and Sergey Frank, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SMART LNG.

01 Apr 2021

MSC Reaffirms Commitment to Avoid Arctic Shipping Routes

© Alexey Seafarer / Adobe Stock

Container shipping giant MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company doubled down on its position to avoid sending its vessels through the Northern Sea Route and urged others to follow suit, citing environmental concerns.“As a responsible company, this was an obvious decision for us,” said MSC CEO, Soren Toft. “MSC will not seek to cut through the melting ice of the Arctic to find a new route for commercial shipping, and I consider this a position the whole shipping industry must adopt.”Running from Murmansk near Russia’s border with Norway to the Bering Strait near Alaska…

29 Mar 2021

Suez Canal Shutdown Shows Value of Northern Sea Route, Russia Says

© vasilevich / Adobe Stock

Russia’s energy ministry said on Monday a stranded container ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal has highlighted the safety and sustainability of its Northern Sea Route (NSR) and Russian energy pipelines.These “are highly secure and hold competitive positions in terms of transportation costs as well as by reliability in comparison to alternative routes”, the ministry said.Russia expects cargoes to increase through the Northern Sea Route, an Arctic Ocean route to Asia which trims 4,000 nautical miles off the southern alternative via the Suez Canal.Volumes reached almost 33 million tonnes last year

12 Feb 2021

'Small Fire' Aboard Antarctic Supply Ship

The MPV Everest at Casey research station in Antarctica (Photo: Brett Wilks / Australian Antarctic Division)

The Australian Antarctic Division said a small fire broke out on board a vessel used to resupply Australia’s Casey research station in Antarctica.The fire was discovered around 7 a.m. local time on January 29, in a battery room above the bridge of Bahamas-flagged MPV Everest while the vessel was transiting back to Hobart following an Antarctic resupply trip.The fire was quickly put out using handheld fire extinguishers, AAD said. There were no injuries.AAD said the ship’s operator…

24 Nov 2020

Novatek Starts LNG Ship-to-ship Operations in Murmansk

(Photo: Novatek)

Russian gas producer Novatek has started ship-to-ship loadings of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG project near the northern port of Murmansk, shifting away from Norway, ship tracking data at Refinitiv Eikon showed on Monday.The company previously conducted such operations at a terminal at the Norwegian Arctic port of Honningsvag. However, Oslo has faced pressure from the United States to stop Novatek from using a Norwegian port, with Washington arguing that such operations…

03 Sep 2020

Draft U.N. Plan on Ship Fuel Ban in Arctic Seen as Lax

Image by ondrejprosicky/AdobeStock

Draft U.N. proposals to ban the use and transport of heavy fuel oil by ships in the Arctic contain waivers that will allow many vessels to keep sailing without enough regulatory control over their emissions, a study released on Thursday found.Antarctic waters are protected by stringent regulations, including a ban on heavy oil fuel (HFO) adopted in 2011, even though no cargo moves through the turbulent southern waters. For the Arctic, the rules are looser.Environmentalists say HFO produces higher emissions of harmful pollutants, including sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxides, and black carbon.

12 May 2020

Vestdavit Supplies New Davit for HMS Protector

The Royal Navy polar research vessel HMS Protector is equipped with seven davits from Vestdavit. Photo: Courtesy of the Royal Navy.

Vestdavit is bringing new fast craft handling capability to HMS Protector, the only Royal Navy ship dedicated to Antarctic patrol and survey duties.The advanced icebreaker, which provides a UK presence in the Antarctic and meets treaty obligations on inspections, hydrographical charting and in support of scientific research, is to be equipped with a specially-enhanced PLR-5000 davit from Vestdavit. All seven of the davits onboard HMS Protector have been supplied by Vestdavit.Part of a five-year docking and recertification package undertaken in the UK…

03 Apr 2020

Ice Chart Data Satellite Network to Launch in 2022


A newly established consortium is going to develop a network for low Earth orbit satellites delivering ice chart data to ships at sea. A new research project called MARIOT (Maritime IoT) is going to develop a low Earth orbit satellite network based on the new VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) technology. The consortium behind the project is headed by the Danish satellite operator Sternula. The satcom developers GateHouse, Space Inventor, and Satlab as well as Aalborg University…

16 Mar 2020

ABB Supporting Sustainable Arctic Shipping

(Photo: Sovcomflot)

High in the Arctic Circle lies the Northern Sea Route, one of the planet’s vital shipping arteries. It cuts a journey by almost a third compared to the southern route but it is passing through waters which are mostly frozen.The northern route connects east and west, allowing cargo to be transferred from northern Europe to northeast Asia, via the Bering Strait. It’s a 30% faster passage than the southern Europe-Asia alternative via the Suez Canal and is attractive to shipping companies, thanks to considerable fuel and emission savings.

12 Mar 2020

CITB Adds Shallow-draft Tug in Alaska

(Image: CITB)

Cook Inlet Tug and Barge (CITB) is adding a versatile shallow draft tugboat, the Bristol Wind, to its fleet in mid-April. The uniquely designed tug will join her sister vessel, the Capt. Frank Moody, in support of the construction, and oil and gas industries' remote cargo transportation needs along the Arctic coastline."Drawing just 3.2 feet, the Bristol Wind is uniquely designed to operate efficiently as a coastal tug. She has the unique ability to lighten the draft when water…

03 Feb 2020

Russia Leads E&P Race in Arctic Region

Russian and Norwegian exploration and production (E&P) operators have been expanding their operations in the Arctic continental shelf, which is estimated to hold vast deposits of hydrocarbons and rare earth minerals.Warming temperatures in the Barents Sea and northern coastline of Russia are giving an added impetus to resource development in this region, according to GlobalData.GlobalData's report, ‘Arctic Exploitation’, discusses how Russia is keen on hydrocarbon appraisal and development from the Arctic region to such a great extent that it even settled its longstanding territorial dispute with Norway.The government is also providing tax incentives to companies that invest in this region.

08 Nov 2019

New ICS, OCIMF Guidelines for Polar Safety

Photo: OCIMF

Maritime trade between Arctic destinations and the rest of the world is expected to expand and an increasing number of ships are now undertaking voyages in polar waters. Technical developments in ship design and equipment continue to facilitate more and more ship operations in remote polar areas, despite challenging and unpredictable sea and weather conditions.The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), adopted by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO)…

31 Oct 2019

Russia Presses for Northern Sea Route

Russia is advocating expansion of ports and shipping along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).The  existing excellent contacts between Port of Hamburg Marketing and Russian ports as well as the Hamburg maritime industry’s second most important trading partner in seaborne freight traffic provided the occasion for an expert session on the use of the Northern Sea Route – NSR - and development of transit freight traffic between Europe and Asia.At a meeting in Hamburg, members of a delegation from the Russian company Rosatom briefed interested business and shipping representatives extensively on planning for the expansion of the NSR and opening up the Arctic region.In initial test runs…

28 Oct 2019

Nike Takes Arctic Shipping Pledge

Nike and Ocean Conservancy are encouraging businesses to avoid shipping routes via the Arctic Ocean, with the launch of an ‘Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge.'As climate change causes Arctic sea ice to diminish, cargo traffic through previously unnavigable ocean routes becomes increasingly feasible. Though these routes can offer decreased transit times, the possibility of increased vessel traffic across the Arctic poses great risk and potentially devastating environmental impacts for one of the world’s most fragile regions.“At Nike, we exist to serve athletes. That means taking climate action through Move to Zero, Nike’s journey towards a zero carbon, zero waste future,” says Hilary Krane, EVP, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Nike, Inc.

21 Oct 2019

CAA Welcomes MSC 's Shelving Arctic Routes

Clean Arctic Alliance has welcome MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company's decision to avoid Arctic shipping route as a new short cut between northern Europe and Asia.Clean Arctic Alliance lead advisor Dr Sian Prior was responding to the announcement that shipping company MSC “will not explore or use the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia for container shipping” and that it believes that shipping lines should focus on reducing the environmental impact of existing shipping trade routes”.“The Clean Arctic Alliance welcomes MSC’s decision to avoid using the Northern Sea Route to ship goods between Asia and Europe. While MSC have understandably come under fire for their environmental record elsewhere…

18 Oct 2019

MSC Rejects Northern Sea Route

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world’s second-biggest container shipping line, has decided not to use the Arctic as a new short cut between northern Europe and Asia and will instead focus on improving environmental performance on existing global trade routes.In declaring the northern sea route out of bounds, MSC follows CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd that have similarly eschewed the commercial benefits of an Asia-North Europe option that is 30 percent shorter than the southern route via the Suez Canal.The Northern Sea Route lies entirely in Arctic waters and has been trialed by other shipping lines seeking to take advantage of melting ice from global warming.“As a responsible company with a longstanding nautical heritage and passion for the sea…