7 December 2021 – Taymyr, the nuclear-powered icebreaker operated by FSUE Atomflot, has successfully escorted a convoy of seven vessels (Kumpula, Vladimir Rusanov, Severniy Project, RZK Constanta, Turukhan, Grigoriy Shelikhov and Mechanic Pustoshny) along the Northern Sea Route (NSR). From the western ice edge of the Kara Sea, the ships independently continued their journey out of the NSR area.
On 22 November 2021, another nuclear-powered icebreaker – Vaygach – escorted RZK Constanta, Turukhan and Grigoriy Shelikhov from the port of Pevek. The convoy then began to move westwards. On 25 November, Kumpula, Selenga, Vladimir Rusanov, Severniy Project and Mechanic Pustoshny joined the convoy.
Mustafa Kashka, General Director of FSUE Atomflot, commented: “The coordinated actions of all involved ensured that the vessels received assistance in a timely manner. This voyage has left its mark on Northern Sea Route navigation. We must thank the captain and crew of Vaygach for their professionalism in responding to this situation. On his maiden voyage on the Vaygach, Captain Mikhail Goncharenko demonstrated his skills and experience and has earned his place among the top flight of Arctic captains.”
This operation marks the first time in the history of Arctic shipping that a convoy of eight ships with different technical specifications has passed through the NSR area from east to west at this time of year. The convoy passed through the most difficult parts of the route – the Vilkitsky and Matisen Straits – without issue.
On 5 December, Selenga left the convoy in the area of the Taymyr Peninsula and independently made its way to the Sever Bay.
Captain of the Vaygach icebreaker, Mikhail Goncharenko, added: “We had to continuously adapt our tactics. All of the ships in the convoy became part of one team. The captains understood the situation and performed our commands professionally. Maintaining a gap while keeping close to us was the most difficult aspect for them as they are not used to operating in this way. One of the vessels – Kumpula – was foreign, but there was no language barrier. The Finnish captain spoke English well and followed all our instructions carefully.”
On 6 December, the Taymyr icebreaker took over the convoy while Vaygach headed to the Gulf of Ob. Once Taymyr had finished escorting this convoy, she went on to escort two more ships – Teriberka and Tambei – from the western ice edge of the Kara Sea to the Yenisey Gulf.
There are now no vessels in the NSR area in need of urgent icebreaker assistance.