Friday, August 23, 2013
On his five-day Arctic voyage onboard a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy IMO secretary- general Koji Sekimizu has been describing hugely varied conditions from thick pack ice, to open seas.
The IMO secretary-general is on a fact-finding voyage to see how viable Arctic Shipping is as it develops the Polar Code and has been posting a blog on tumblr. On just his second day onboard Sekimizu describes being woken up at 07-00hrs by the hull hitting ice in the Kara Sea.
Early morning on the third day of the voyage Sekimizu describes the conditions as the ice thickens in the passage between the Kara and Laptev Sea.
"At 03:30, 50 Let Pobedy was struggling to make headway because of accumulated sea ice in the vicinity of the Taymyr Peninsula, in the channel connecting the Kara Sea to the Laptev Sea. I saw cracks appearing ahead of the icebreaker, because of the impact of the ice-breaking bow on the ice. A massive piece of ice even changed the course of the ship forcefully."
While recognising the reality of Arctic Shipping and the use of the Northern Sea Route the IMO secretary-general is clear on the difficulties faced.
"Navigation through the Arctic using the Northern Sea Route has become a reality in summer. However, the Arctic waters are still extreme, even in summer, and the power of nature cannot be underestimated," he said.
Even in summer the changes in conditions are dramatic and just a few hours after describing the power of the ice in the passage between the Kara and Laptev Seas the 50 Let Pobedy is sailing in open seas with a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
"Except for the early hours of this morning, our voyage today has been smooth, calm and eventless since we entered the Laptev Sea. We are in the middle of a wide, open, calm sea. So long as such comfortable navigation continues, the Arctic Ocean seems to be a kind and modest sea. But we must remember that we are currently at the peak of summer and it was only this morning that we were really struggling to make headway in ice-packed fields," Sekimizu wrote.

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