Heavy ice conditions along Canada’s east coast during spring 2017 presented hazardous conditions for the maritime industry at a time of year when vessels typically do not need to contend with sea ice. Greater ice concentrations and a thicker ice pack than are typical of this area created the anomalous ice cover, according to a study by the American Geophysical Union.
A recent research shows that more Arctic sea ice is entering the North Atlantic Ocean, increasing the risks for ships which sail in these areas in spring. The ice trapped many ships, even causing some to sink, as it damaged their hulls. The study authors say that warming temperatures cause by climate change are melting more Arctic ice, increasing ice mobility and opening channels that are normally frozen shut.
Namely, the vessel will be 104.4 meters long, 18.4 meters wide and will have a weight of 7,400 tonnes, reaching a speed of at least 15.5 knots. Moreover, it will have electric propulsion and control system, thus being able to sail through high-latitude sea ice. The ship will be designed by the Norwegian shipbuilding company Ulstein.
IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue agreed to establish two-way routes, precautionary areas and areas to be avoided in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait. These waters are expected to see increased traffic due to rising economic activity in the Arctic.
Recently, a milestone was set for Arctic shipping. Namely, the tanker “Eduard Toll” became the first ever ship to sail through the Northern Sea Route during winter, without the help of an icebreaker. Teekay’s “Eduard Toll” started from South Korea in December 2017, heading to the Sabetta LNG terminal in Russia.
The German ports Bremen and Bremerhaven have cooperated in a campaign to ban heavy fuel oil (HFO) from Arctic shipping, along with more than 80 companies, organisations, politicians, NGOs and explorers. bremenports signed the Arctic Commitment to eliminate heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping, and called other ports to join as well.
The US Navy in collaboration with the US Coast Guard, released a request for proposal on March 2, 2018, for the design of the USCG’s heavy polar icebreaker, with options for detail design and construction for up to three HPIBs. A single contract award will be made in 2019.
More and more ships are attempting to sail without the help of an icebreaker in the tough climatic conditions of Russia’s Northern Sea Route. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources wants more ships to sail independently, an for that better weather forecasts are important.
Gibson Shipbrokers released their latest report informing about the lack of ice class fleet ordering activity in recent years. Most of the recent newbuild investment has gone into Aframax tonnage with a mix of Finnish/Swedish ice class 1A and 1C orders.
Heavy sea ice conditions have aborted a science mission from reaching the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica from which a large iceberg broke off in July 2017. A team of scientists, led by British Antarctic Survey, were travelling on board the RRS James Clark Ross, in sea ice up to 4-5 metres thick, when the ship’s captain made the decision not to continue.
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