The anchor handler and icebreaker Tor Viking made it through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) without a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker escort in December – a first for the time of year.
The Independent Barents Observer reports company representative Morten Grumheden saying: “At times, the ice conditions were challenging.” The vessel got stuck for a few hours but was able to be freed without assistance.
The Tor Viking is owned and operated by the Norwegian company Trans Viking.
It entered the Bering Strait on November 28 and passed the northern tip of Novaya Zemlya on December 10. The vessel encountered ice on entering the Bering Strait. It sailed a route south of the New Siberian Island and north of the Novaya Zemlya.
“We have had very good support from the K-Sat, AARI, Polar View and StormGeo, as well as our own Shore Operation Center,” Aggvin told the Independent Barents Observer.
Russia’s Cold Silk Road
Russia intends to boost shipping along the Norther Sea Route and approved a plan last year that will see an increase in cargo volumes from today’s four million tons per year to 80 million tons by year 2030.
Russia is currently building at least 14 icebreakers as part of its plans for shipping in the region.
In last week’s Russian Arctic Commission meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called the route Russia’s “Cold Silk Road” and called on Chinese companies to take a role in infrastructure development. He says that Russia should find ways to keep the Arctic route open all year round.
China has previously shown interest in investing in Russian rail-to-sea projects, among them the Belkomur initiative which could see the Arkhangelsk Sea Port grow into one of the biggest in the Arctic. A Russian-Chinese governmental agreement is expected to be signed in April.