Russian Freighter Caught in the Ice in Siberian Arctic

sparta III
Sparta III on a previous voyage in 2018 (File image courtesy Bosphorus Observer)

Published Dec 21, 2020 11:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Russian con/ro Sparta III has gotten stuck in the ice in the Arctic waters of Yenisey Gulf, an inlet on the Kara Sea, according to state news outlet TASS.

According to TASS, the vessel became caught in the ice on December 13. She ran low on food and water as the crew attempted to break out, a shipping source told TASS, and unspecified equipment froze up.

The crew's effort to free the vessel has not shown signs of success, and AIS tracking shows that Sparta III remains stationary, attended by one offshore tug. With the Siberian winter setting in, operator Oboronlogistics has called for heavy icebreaker assistance.

"In the coming days, a nuclear icebreaker will be dispatched to escort the vessel to a safe area for navigation. The vessel has the necessary supplies of food and lubricants, communication with the captain is maintained," Oboronlogistics told TASS. "There is no threat to the life of the ship's crew members."

Sparta III is a geared con/ro built in Germany to Germanischer Lloyd ice class E3 (roughly equivalent to 1A) in 2009. She was acquired in 2017, and she is now the largest vessel in the fleet of Oboronlogistics, a firm founded to provide transport services for the Russian military. She was getting under way on a voyage from Dudinka to Arkhangelsk at the time of the incident, TASS reported.

Oboronlogistics also holds the unique rail-ferry contract for operations between Baltysk and the exclave of Kaliningrad, an isolated outpost between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic.