Russian ships performed a unique transit voyage along the Northern Sea Route (map)
For the first time in the history of Arctic navigation a convoy of ships escorted by FSUE Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy successfully completed a voyage along the Northern Sea Route. The westward voyage lasted from late December till the beginning of January. Among the ships in the convoy was the Shturman Ovtsyn, Arctic shuttle tanker of Sovcomflot, the Company told IAA PortNews. Apart from the Shturman Ovtsyn the convoy included the Audax and the Arktika-1.
The tanker joined the convoy in the Bering Strait on 21 December 2016 and covered 2,400 nautical miles up to the Gulf of Ob in the Kara Sea. Then, on January 3 the Shturman Ovtsyn sailed independently to the Kamenny Cape in the Gulf of Ob, for loading.
The voyage of the convoy by the Northern Sea Route was performed in the dead of the polar night in quite challenging ice conditions. In the East Siberian Sea the convoy had to sail through heavy to break first-year ice breccia with inclusions of multi-year ice ridges of up to 4 points and under ice pressure of up to 3 points.
Sovcomflot emphasized that “thanks to qualification and high professionalism of Russian seafarers none of the inevitable challenges of a voyage in a convoy of diverse vessels, nor polar night or ice pressure could hinder the ships from completing their voyage successfully with the assistance of Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreaker.
Shturman Ovtsyn is one of Arctic shuttle tankers in a series ordered by Sovcomflot Group under a long-term contract with Gazprom Neft. They are designed to carry crude oil from the Yamal Peninsula (YNAD) to the port of Murmansk all year-round. The vessels are registered under the flag of the Russian Federation and are homeported in Saint-Petersburg.
Each tanker has deadweight of approximately 42,000 tonnes (Shturman Ovtsyn: 41,550.8 tonnes), length - 249 m, breadth– 34 m. The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) assigned the vessels an ice class Arc7.The Shturman Albanov joined the fleet of SCF on 16 August 2016, the Shturman Malygin – on 7 October 2016, the Shturman Ovtsyn was put into operation on 8 December 2016. All the three tankers are currently deployed for delivering crude oil from the Vorota Arktiki (Arctic Gate) terminal near the Cape Kamenny to Murmansk.
The vessels’ technical characteristics are unique. The design of the new vessels takes into account the specific features of the waters in the Gulf of Ob, where some areas are relatively shallow – about 10 metres deep – and which is covered with ice from October to July. They are capable of operating in the Arctic all year-round at temperatures down to –45°С. Their propulsion system consists of two Azipod thrusters with a total capacity of 22 MW, which provides a high ice-breaking capability and good manoeuvrability in sailing through ice drifts and heavy ice fields, particularly due to a DAT function (Double Acting Tanker). A double acting tanker sails in the astern direction when it comes to ice breaking. The design of the vessels complies with the highest safety standards of navigation, which is a basic principle of SCF Group.
Photo report by Dmitry Lobusov, Captain of Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy >>>>