Emergency in Arctic waters as oil tanker gets stuck in ice, drifts ashore

Posted: December 6, 2017 by oldbrew in Natural Variation, News, sea ice, weather

Arctic Northern Sea Route

The risks of underestimating seasonal Arctic sea ice catch up with a group of over-optimistic Russian sailors.

The 35 year old vessel «Chukotka+» carried several thousand tons of oil and independently tried to make it across the Northern Sea Route, says the Barents Observer.

Little is known about the incident which probably could have triggered a serious accident along Russia’s icy northern coast.

According to Rosatom, the state company operating the fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, the «Chukotka+» on the 30th October entered the waters of the Northern Sea Route. The ship sailed alone and aimed for a voyage across the Arctic route without icebreaker assistance.

It was not successful.

In the Sannikov Strait, the area between the New Siberian Islands and the mainland, the ship got stuck in ice. It subsequently drifted with the ice onto a sand bank.

On 22nd November, nuclear icebreaker «Yamal» arrived on site in a rescue operation. The tanker was pulled off the ground and to a safe place, Rosatom representative Vladimir Artyunin says in a press release.

The «Chukotka+» subsequently proceeded it voyage eastwards with support from icebreakers.

Rosatom does not report about any damage to the ship, nor leak of oil. The ship owner, the Chukotka Trading Company, has not released any information about the incident on its website.

If the ship had started to leak oil, it could have had potential devastating consequences for the vulnerable waters along the Arctic East-Siberian coast.

According to the Northern Sea Route Administration, the ship on Friday 1 December drifted in the area of Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Strait. Nearby is «Pyotr Veliky», the cargo ship which is on its way from Dikson with up to 21,000 tons of coal from the Taybass coal basin.

Ice data from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute shows that the waters east of Wrangel Island still are ice-free. However, in the Laptev Sea the ice thickness is up to 200 cm. [over 6 feet]

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Here they say the Barents Observer ‘falsely’ reported it as an accident, but as we see above they said: ‘could have triggered a serious accident’— which is obviously different.

    This report also says: ‘For a vessel to be stuck in ice in Arctic, waiting for icebreaker, is a routine matter, it’s not an accident.’


    Someone is getting a bit tetchy it seems. Is a loaded oil tanker drifting onto a sandbank ‘routine’?

  2. Roger, in the article, I found oil and coal. Alex

    carried several thousand tons of oil

    cargo ship which is on its way from Dikson with up to 21,000 tons of coal from the Taybass coal basin.

    capacity to carry up to 11,000 tons of oil

    [reply] it says: Nearby is «Pyotr Veliky» = the coal ship