New icebreakers come to the aid of Russian arctic ships in need

The Arktika left St. Petersburg on November 30 where it underwent technical upgrades, and is due to arrive in Sabetta, Yamal Peninsula, on December 7.

The powerful icebreaker, the first Russian ship LK-60, left the Gulf of Finland on December 1, carrying data from the MarineTraffic lounge.

The “Arktika” leaves the Gulf of Finland heading for the Arctic. Screenshot of MarineTraffic

The Arktika will join three other nuclear-powered icebreakers who are already busy escorting ships through the increasingly icy waters. The Vaigach has, in recent weeks, been actively engaged in icebreaking in the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea, where up to 20 ships have been stranded in the ice.

This year’s early frost in the Russian Arctic created a critical situation in the region and several ships are now several weeks behind their original schedules.

Since December 1, the Vaigach escorted eight ships through the northern parts of the Kara Sea. The large convoy spent over a week on an arctic odyssey from the Laptev Sea and through the Vilkitsky Strait.

The nuclear icebreaker Vaygach escorting eight ships through the Vilkitsky Strait and through the northern parts of the Kara Sea.

In the convoy is Finnish bulk carrier Kumpula, as well as oil Vladimir Roussanov and freighters Selenga, Severnyi project, Mekhanik Pustoshnyy, Grigoriy Shelikhov, RZK Constanta and Turukhan. All the ships were escorted several thousand kilometers from the easternmost part of the Russian Arctic.

Meanwhile, the Yamal is busy breaking the ice in the Gulf of Ob, and the Taymyr was on December 1 heading down Yenisei Bay towards the Kara Sea.


The latter vessel was originally commissioned by the mining and metallurgical company Nornickel for icebreaking on the Ienissey River, but it will now join other nuclear icebreakers in the region.

Under an agreement signed by Nornickel and Rosatom, the former will adjust its freight program to its key arctic port of Dudinka in order to support the latter in its icebreaking efforts. The deal comes after an approach by senior Rosatom representative Vyacheslav Ruksha, the company informed.

Viasheslav Ruksha is director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

“Despite its strained efforts to bring its ships to Dudinka, Nornickel has responded to the demand and adjusted its sailing schedule to free up icebreaker capabilities. Taymyr and help Atomflot get out of the ice-blocked ships from the area, ”read a statement from Nornickel.

At the same time, the 50 Leave Pobedy, the second most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the Rosatom fleet, was still moored in the port of Murmansk on 1 December.

As of December 1, almost all of the Northern Sea Route was covered with sea ice. Map by

There is also a growing number of diesel powered icebreakers in the area. Rosmorport Crown Corporation sent its ships Dikson and Kapitan Dranitsyn towards the Kara Sea, where they have been busy dismantling cargo ships since the end of November Georgiy Ushakov and Petrotrans-5902 ice along the Taymyr coast.

In addition, the Kapitan Makarov is en route from Murmansk and reached the northern tip of the Yamal peninsula on 1 December.

In the easternmost part of the Russian Arctic is icebreaker Novorossiysk busy escorting ships from the port of Pevek and to the Bering Strait. From December 1, the ship gave way to ice for freighters Fesco Paris and Georgy Sedov.

There is now only one ship trapped in the Pevek pack ice, the Lev Yachine.

The waters between the mainland and Iceland of Wrangel have had areas covered with multi-year sea ice since early November and are now among the most problematic parts of the North Sea.