NSR Shipping Traffic – Icebreaker support in 2021

In 2021, 18 icebreakers were engaged to ensure safe navigation in the water area of ​​the Northern Sea Route, the same number was in 2020. All operating icebreakers can be conditionally divided into 3 categories: nuclear icebreakers – 5 vessels; diesel icebreakers – 11 of them; and 3 river icebreakers operating at river mouths, adjacent to the sea routes, between the Siberian rivers, as well as in bays and coastal areas of the NSR. When calculating the activity of icebreakers, for 1 voyage we take the movement of the icebreaker from / to the port or area of ​​work, as well as the passage from one area of ​​work to another. In total, there were 354 such passages in 2021 (220 in 2020). The river icebreakers have low ice class – Ice 1 and Arc 4 – that is why their work takes place only in summer navigation period. Another cause is that navigation between the Siberian rivers stops in winter. The bulk of the work falls on nuclear and diesel icebreakers (sea type). More than half – 243 voyages – is accounted for nuclear icebreakers. In general, it can be noted that the work of icebreakers in 2021 has greatly increased in comparison with 2020, both in the winter navigation period and in the summer.

Voyages of icebreakers by navigation period 2021 2020
Winter (1st January-30th June+December 2021) 261 166
Summer (1st July-30th November 2021) 93 54
Total 354 220

As usually, nuclear icebreakers mainly operated in the winter period (there were 194 passages in winter). Besides the escorting vessels in the Kara Sea from Cape Zhelaniya and the Kara Strait to the Ob Bay and the Yenisey Bay, and making channels in those bays, the nuclear icebreaker Yamal had work in the eastern seas in December. Let us remind, that in this area (East Siberian and Chukchi Seas) there were many icebreaking escorts even in the late navigational summer – in November. CHNL Information Office monitored and reported in the details about the work of nuclear icebreakers when they helped to more than 20 vessels that had got stuck in ice delivering cargoes to Pevek because of the heavy ice conditions. Another point on the NSR that was difficult for navigation in November was the Vilkitskiy Strait. The icebreaker Vaygach helped to pass this strait.

The difficult navigation conditions in autumn of 2021 involved even diesel icebreakers in the work on the eastern routes. The Novorossiysk icebreaker escorted vessels from Pevek to the east via the Long Strait. As for the navigation periods: 67 passages were made in winter and 44 – in summer. The geography of the diesel icebreakers’ work was very wide: their support was demanded in the Ob Bay, Yenisey bay, on the approaches to Sever Bay, Syradasayskoe coal field, Dudinka port, and in the seas from Kara to Chukchi.

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