This year’s final transit expedition on the Northern Sea Route is underway

The powerful icebreaker approached the strait between Wrangel Island and the Russian mainland on Tuesday and is expected to begin its escort of the 206-meter-long aircraft carrier soon.

the Pugnax awaited help from the icebreaker in the Chukchi Sea, north of the Bering Strait. The ice conditions in the region are increasingly difficult. There is a multi-year sea ice cover south of Wrangel Island, and the convoy will not see any ice-free water until it leaves the Northern Sea Route west of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago.

Sea ice in the Arctic from December 1 to 5, 2021. Map of the Russian Institute for Arctic and Antarctic Research

The Liberian-flagged heavy load carrier that departed Busan, Korea on November 28, is bound for Murmansk. It is due to arrive in the port of northern Russia on December 27.

This will likely be the last transit expedition on the Russian Arctic Route in 2021. Transit shipments from the Bering Strait in the east to the Barents Sea in the west have increased significantly over the past year. ‘year. As of mid-October, more than 1.5 million tonnes of goods were shipped in transit, an increase of more than 80% from the same period in 2020, according to the Russian Maritime and River Transport Agency. informed.

The “Yamal” on the way to assist the “Pugnax” in the Chukchi Sea on December 14, 2021.

The increase in shipments comes despite the harsh sea ice conditions in the region. Most of the distant Arctic waters were already covered in a fast-growing white layer by the end of October, and by the beginning of November the sea route was difficult to navigate for ships without the highest class of ice.


At most, more than 20 ships were either stranded or struggling to get out of the icy waters of the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea by mid-November.

the Pugnax has the Arc 7 ice class and, under normal circumstances, would be able to navigate independently through the NSR. Information of the Northern Sea Route Administration states that the vessel is only required to call in the aid of an icebreaker in the most difficult sea ice conditions.

This assistance on the eastern sections of the road is now provided by the Yamal.

Beyond Yamal and the Pugnax, there is only one ship left on the Northern Sea Route. the Lev Yachine arrived in Pevek port in early December and is unlikely to be able to exit the area without an icebreaker escort. This could be expected when the Arktika reportedly sailed to the city in the far eastern Arctic with a convoy of freighters in late December or early January. Freighters were originally scheduled to travel to Pevek in November, but had to return to Arkhangelsk due to heavy sea ice east of the Vilkitsky Strait.

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