Join our crew and become one of the 106,484 members that receive our newsletter.

Ice-resistant self-propelled platform Severniy Polus. (Source: Roshydromet)

Ice-resistant self-propelled platform Severniy Polus. (Source: Roshydromet)

Russian Survey Platform Drifts Into Norwegian Territorial Waters

Malte Humpert
Total Views: 3455
April 15, 2024

By Malte Humpert (gCaptain) –

A Russian ice-resistant survey platform has drifted with pack ice into Norwegian territorial waters to the north of the Svalbard archipelago. The 3,540 deadweight tonnage Severniy Polus is on a two year research expedition collecting acoustic, geophysical, and marine research for Russia’s Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet).

The vessel began its drift across the Arctic in October 2022 intending to conclude its voyage in the Greenland Sea. However, over the past several weeks it has continuously drifted in a southerly direction toward Norway’s Arctic archipelago, entering the country’s territorial waters late last week. It currently sits around eight nautical miles from the northern tip of Svalbard.

Screenshots of AIS tracks showing the drift of Severniy Polus toward Svalbard and operations of KV Svalbard in the vicinity. (Source: Shipinfo.net)
Screenshots of AIS tracks showing the drift of Severniy Polus toward Svalbard and operations of KV Svalbard in the vicinity. (Source: Shipinfo.net)

Norway’s Coast Guard would not speak as to the intention of the Russian vessel but said it was following the situation. 

“I can assure you that Norway’s Coast Guard is monitoring the activity closely and is assessing necessary measures continuously,” a spokesperson explained.

Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker and offshore patrol vessel KV Svalbard, departed from the Svalbard port of Longyearbyen in direction of Severniy Polus last week.

“The presence of a Norwegian patrol boat is not by accident,” confirms Hervé Baudu, Arctic shipping expert and Chief Professor of Maritime Education at the French Maritime Academy (ENSM). 

Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker and patrol vessel KV Svalbard. (Source: Norwegian Armed Forces)
Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker and patrol vessel KV Svalbard. (Source: Norwegian Armed Forces)

With onboard propulsion limited to 4,200 kW it is unclear if the platform will be able to free itself or move through the first-year ice. 

“The vessel is at the boundary of old first-year ice and younger ice drifting westwards. I think the drift can be controlled. With leads forming at the end of the winter season it should be able to free itself westwards to reach the open sea,” continues Baudu.

Other experts gCaptain spoke to cautioned that there was still too much ice for the platform to move under its own power.

Russiandiesel-electric icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin may be en route to assist and reposition Severniy Polus. The vessel departed from St. Petersburg in the Baltic Sea a week ago. As of April 15, 2024 it was located around 500 nautical miles to the south of Svalbard with a continuous course for the archipelago. 

Unlock Exclusive Insights Today!

Join the gCaptain Club for curated content, insider opinions, and vibrant community discussions.

Sign Up
Back to Main
polygon icon polygon icon

Why Join the gCaptain Club?

Access exclusive insights, engage in vibrant discussions, and gain perspectives from our CEO.

Sign Up
close

JOIN OUR CREW

Maritime and offshore news trusted by our 106,484 members delivered daily straight to your inbox.

gCaptain’s full coverage of the maritime shipping industry, including containerships, tankers, dry bulk, LNG, breakbulk and more.