Near-disaster in Arctic illustrates dangers of Northern Sea Route

Barge MP 3297 broke off its mooring and allided with the berthed Zapolyarnyy (IMO 9404027) early on September 5th in the port of Dudinka in the Russian Arctic. While the barge remained intact, the cargo ship sustained dents in its stern accommodation area. The incident somewhat took the shine off the arrival of 2017-built Cosco heavylift vessel Tian’en (IMO 9774587) at the French port of Rouen after a 33-day voyage via the Northern Sea Route from China’s Lianyungang port, carrying wind farm equipment.

Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Sian Prior called on Cosco “to make public the nature of the fuel that the Tian’en has used and carried through Arctic waters – and for Cosco and its customers to commit to using – and carrying only lighter distillate fuels or other cleaner alternatives instead of the world’s dirtiest fuel – heavy fuel oil (HFO) – to power ships in the Arctic.”

Prior continued: “With Arctic summer sea ice at approximately half the extent it was in the 1970s and half the volume, and following the news that the region’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record, using heavy fuel oil to power shipping in the Arctic is a poor choice. It not only increases the risk of oil spills, but also generates emissions of black carbon, which exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice in the Arctic region.”

2008-built, Russia-flagged, 16,994 gt Zapolyarnyy is owned by Norilsk Nickel of Moscow, Russia, and managed by Norilsk Nickel-Murmansk of Murmansk, Russia.