At 16:30 Moscow time on 19th February, Sovcomflot’s (SCF) Arc7 ‘Christophe de Margerie’ arrived at Sabetta, Yamal following a trial round voyage to Jiangsu and back along a high altitude section of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
This was the first time that a large cargo vessel had completed a transit along the eastern sector of the Arctic in February, SCF said.
On her return voyage, from Cape Dezhnev to Sabetta, the LNGC was escorted by ’50 Let Pobedy’ nuclear-powered icebreaker. The convoy covered a distance of 2,500 nautical miles along the NSR, taking 11 days and 10 hours to complete the journey.
Throughout the voyage, the Arc7 maintained a safe speed, given the ice and weather conditions. The most challenging part of the voyage involved passing through hummocks in the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea.
Igor Tonkovidov, SCF President and CEO, commented: "As a result of the early NSR voyage completed by ’Christophe de Margerie’ in May, 2020, as well as the current NSR voyage, the navigation in the Eastern part of the Arctic was practically doubled.
“Increasing the period of Arctic navigation means this high latitude transport corridor can be used more efficiently, which will benefit both the Russian and global economies," he said.
The successful completion of a round trip by the Arc7 in January/ February, 2021 came as a result of many years of effort by SCF and Yamal LNG operator NOVATEK to develop the NSR’s transit potential.
Both companies have been co-operating with Rosatom’s icebreaker shipowning arm Atomflot since 2010 to implement a programme to conduct experimental cargo voyages along the route.
SCF said that the Arctic voyages priorities included:
Studying the icebreaking capabilities of large capacity cargo vessels when navigating under the typical conditions on the NSR during various periods of the year when travelling independently or in convoys.
Assessing the quality, reliability and timeliness of data that can be obtained about the ice conditions from various sources - AARI, Skaneks, the ice maps of foreign research centres.
Assessing the effectiveness of the on board equipment and mechanisms, as well as the remote surveillance and monitoring of these systems, in order to detect and eliminate possible malfunctions.
Implementing versatile professional training for crews, as well as internships for cadets from vocational schools, who are training to become Arctic seafarers.
Meanwhile, one of her sisterships, Teekay and China Shipping LNG’s jointly-owned Arc7, ‘Nikolay Yevgenov’ has drydocked at the Damen Shiprepair Brest repair yard after she recently sustained damage to an Azipod during a voyage transiting the NSR.
The 172,400 cu m 2019-built LNGC suffered damage in January to one of its three 15 MW azipods while sailing through the NSR without icebreaker assistance.
Teekay Gas CEO Mark Kremin confirmed to analysts during the fourth quarter conference call last week that the icebreaking LNGC “got some damage” on one of her pods.
He said the ship was due to enter the yard on 26th February for repairs.
Kremin added; “The vessel is insured. And as far as deductibles go, we actually are currently not expecting that there’d be any liability for the owners.”
He expected the repairs will be completed in the next couple of weeks, prior to her return to service on NOVATEK’s Yamal LNG project.