Ice problems for vessels in Northern Sea Route sees blame-shifting

The slowing of traffic on the Northern Sea Route this month, which has seen various icebreakers, notably the Vaygach (IMO 8417493) and Taymyr (IMO 8417481) undergo various back-and-forth shuttle manoeuvres in order to lead around a dozen vessels, including the Nordic Nuluujaak (IMO 9884966), Golden Suek (IMO 9438614), Nordic Qinngua (IMO 9884978), Golden Pearl (IMO 9470375), UHL Fusion (IMO 9785380) and MV Kumpula (IMO 9590802) through solidifying ice, looked to be continuing this week, albeit with different vessels needing help.

The Vaygach-led far-east bound convoy of the first five ships mentioned above reached the Bering Strait early on November 21st. The Vaygach then turned round and took three Russian cargo ships in the direction of Arkhangelsk, White Sea, As of November 24th it was leading this convoy in the East Siberian sea in heavy ice, and from time-to-time the ships became stuck, forcing the icebreaker to move around them, cutting off ice. This convoy is heading north-west to pick up three dry cargo ships and one tanker, including Finnish bulk carrier MV Kumpula, which are stuck in ice while travelling westbound. There remained some distance between the icebreaker, its caravan, and the other four ships that are stuck.

Rosatomflot and NSR Administration were deploying other icebreakers to provide safe passage for the ships remaining along the NSR. Icebreaker Novorossiysk (IMO 9692571)was escorting the far-east bound cargo ship Radik Bashirov (IMO 9013878) in the Chukchi sea.

The question was now arising within Russia as to whose fault all of this was. The Russian Ministry of Arctic and Far East territories development blamed Roshydromet (Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring), which is responsible for weather and ice forecasts. The Ministry said that Roshydromet’s forecast for ongoing fall-winter season and ice cover had proved to be badly wrong. Roshydromet said in response that the temperatures as the region headed towards winter were “slightly lower than expected”, and blamed the fast ice cover increase on an “abnormal mix” of wind, snow and rain.

2016-built, Russia-flagged, 11,720 gt Novorossiysk is owned and managed by Rosmorport of Moscow, Russia.

1989-built, Russia-flagged, 20,791 gt Taymyr is owned by the Russian government and managed by Atomflot.

1990-built, Russia-flagged, 20,791 gt Vaygach is owned by the Russian government and managed by Atomflot.

1991-built, Russia-flagged, 7,949 gt Radik Bashirov is owned and managed by Kamchatka Shipping Co Ltd of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Kamchatskiy kray, Russia.

2013-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 41,718 gt Golden Pearl is owned by Golden Pearl Inc care of manager Golden Ocean Group Ltd of Hamilton, Bermuda. ISM manager is Thome Shipping Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Golden Pearl Inc

2018-built, Portugal-flagged, 16,732 gt UHL Fusion is owned by Elmar Shipping SA care of manager Hammonia Reederei GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. It is entered with Standard Club (European Division) on behalf of Elmar Shipping SA.

2021-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 54,066 gt Nordic Nuluujaak is owned by Fortune Sealion I Ltd care of manager Nordic Bulk Carriers AS of Hellerup, Denmark. ISM manager is SCF Management Services Dubai. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Nordic Bulk Carriers AS.

2011-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 41,586 gt Golden Suek is owned by Golden Sapphire Inc care of Golden Ocean Group Ltd of Hamilton, Bermuda. ISM manager is Thome Shipping Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Golden Sapphire Inc.

2011-built, Netherlands-flagged, 17,644 gt Poolgracht is owned by Rederij Poolgracht care of manager Spliethoff’s Bevrachtings BV of Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of Rederij Poolgracht.

2012-built, Finland-flagged, 33,958 gt Kumpula is owned and managed by ESL Shipping Ltd of Helsinki, Finland. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of ESL Shipping Ltd.