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VENTA MAERSK needed ice-breaker support

VENTA MAERSK, the first container ship to transit the Northern Sea Route, will shortly complete her voyage from Vladivostock to St Petersburg. The vessel required ice-breaker support though the East Siberian Sea

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Maersk is about to complete the first-ever transit of the Arctic Ocean by a container ship, from Vladivostock to St Petersburg with a cargo of (mainly) frozen fish.

 

The Maersk vessel encountered difficult ice conditions and was escorted by Rosatomflot’s most powerful icebreaker, the NS 50 LET POBEDY, for around 800 nautical miles through the Sannikov Strait and into the Laptev Sea, reports arctictoday.com.

VENTA MAERSK in the Eastern Siberian Sea. (Photo: High North News from Rosatomflot
VENTA MAERSK in the Eastern Siberian Sea. (Photo: High North News from Rosatomflot

A Maersk spokesperson confirmed to High North News that the Venta Maersk entered the waters of the Northern Sea Route last week. There she was met by the 50 LET POBEDY (50 Years since Victory), Rosatomflot’s most powerful nuclear icebreaker, as ice conditions were too severe to proceed without escort.

 

Maersk confirmed that the voyage was proceeding as planned and both crew and systems were operating normally.The container ship departed Busan, South Korea on August 28, and sailed north-eastward through Japan’s Tsugaru Strait. It entered the Northern Sea Route on 7 September sailing at a steady 13 knots. Despite the fact that the VENTA MAERSK is part of a new generation ice-class 1A feeder container ships capable of operating in unconsolidated ice up to 1m thick, ice conditions proved too severe to proceed unassisted.

 

This is an important injection of realism to all the hype about the NSR and, it should be noted, before the ship set sail, Maersk itself expressed great caution about the trip.

The expected sea route. (Arctic Today, copyright Malte Humpert)
The expected sea route. (Arctic Today, copyright Malte Humpert)

The vessel encountered dense ice concentrations west of Pevek and joined up with 50 LET POBEDY on September 8. Over the next three days the convoy travelled close to shore avoiding ice floes reaching down from the central Arctic Ocean. Sailing speeds declined to an average of 10.5 knots and were as low as 8 knots during September 10.

 

After passing through the Sannikov Strait and entering clear waters in the Laptev Sea the icebreaker steamed ahead to Murmansk for repairs and the VENTA MAERSK continued on its own.

 

The vessel now passes through mostly clear waters in the Kara Sea before entering the Barents Sea and traveling down the North Sea to its initial destination of Bremerhaven, where it is expected on September 22, before sailing onward to Saint Petersburg.

 

Rosatomflot confirmed that the convoy took the shortest possible route and that the escort occurred without any incidence.

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