Russian Vessel Convoy Beset in Ice in Northeast Passage

File photo
File photo

A Russian convoy of two bulk carriers and two icebreakers are stuck in ice in part of the Northeast Passage off northern Russia. 

The two bulk carriers, the M/V Johann Mahmastal and M/V Sinegorsk were being escorted by the Russian icebreakers Kapitan Dranitsyn and Admiral Makarov when they became beset in ice in the East Siberian Sea off the Chukotka Peninsula, part of the famed Northeast Passage.

“According to the captain of the Kapitan Dranitsyn vessel, the situation is not critical. There is no tension among the crew. There are food and fuel reserves. After getting more information about ice conditions the convoy will proceed on the route,” the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Directorate for the Chukotka Autonomous Area said in a press release.

The two bulk carriers are operated by Rosmorport. The vessels arrived in Pevek, Russia from Arkhangelsk along the Northern Sea Route in early January where they delivered construction equipment and material to build a pier for the Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power station, which is to be operated as Russia’s first floating nuclear power station when it becomes operational in 2018. Russian media is reporting that the Northern Sea Route crossing beginning in December was the first since Soviet times.

The convoy is currently located near Cape Shelagsky approximately 24 nautical miles from Pevek.

Ice in the area is reported to be exceeding 1 meter thick, with ridged ice up to 2.5 meters thick.

The Emergencies Ministry said a Mi-8 helicopter was dispatched Wednesday morning to explore the ice cover of the East Siberian Sea in hopes of finding an escape route for the vessels.