JHC Navigating Limits Sub-Committee
The INC 1/11/03 wording is designed for modern trading realities: The associated climate information is kept under review by the standing sub-committee.
Northern Sea Route will not replace Suez in the near future say Maersk, October 2018
Maersk, which recently sent the 3,500 teu ice-class vessel Venta Maersk around the Northern Sea Route, has dampened any overenthusiasm for the much shorter route from the coast of China to northern Europe.
Maersk chief technical officer Palle Laursen said that "we do not see the Northern Sea Route as a viable commercial alternative to existing east-west routes. Today, passage on the route is only feasible for around three months a year, but some experts believe that may change with time".
Venta Maersk, a Baltic feeder, started from Vladivostok and stopped at terminals in Vostochny and Busan before passing through the Bering Strait on its way to Bremerhaven. Laursen said that the trial allowed Maersk "to gain exceptional operational experience, test vessel systems, crew capabilities and the functionality of the shore based support setup." The trip went smoothly, although ice conditions in the East Siberian Sea required assistance by icebreakers.
Near-disaster in Arctic illustrates dangers of Northern Sea Route (from Insurance Marine News) September 2018
Barge MP 3297 broke off its mooring and allided with the berthed Zapolyarnyy (IMO 9404027) early on September 5th in the port of Dudinka in the Russian Arctic. While the barge remained intact, the cargo ship sustained dents in its stern accommodation area. The incident somewhat took the shine off the arrival of 2017-built Cosco heavylift vessel Tian'en (IMO 9774587) at the French port of Rouen after a 33-day voyage via the Northern Sea Route from China's Lianyungang port, carrying wind farm equipment.
Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Sian Prior called on Cosco "to make public the nature of the fuel that the Tian’en has used and carried through Arctic waters – and for Cosco and its customers to commit to using – and carrying only lighter distillate fuels or other cleaner alternatives instead of the world’s dirtiest fuel – heavy fuel oil (HFO) – to power ships in the Arctic."
Prior continued: "With Arctic summer sea ice at approximately half the extent it was in the 1970s and half the volume, and following the news that the region’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record, using heavy fuel oil to power shipping in the Arctic is a poor choice. It not only increases the risk of oil spills, but also generates emissions of black carbon, which exacerbate the melting of both sea and glacier ice in the Arctic region."
2008-built, Russia-flagged, 16,994 gt Zapolyarnyy is owned by Norilsk Nickel of Moscow, Russia, and managed by Norilsk Nickel-Murmansk of Murmansk, Russia.
Failed NSR transit, November 2017
Rosatom, the Russian state-owned company that operates the country's fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, advised that on October 30th, the tanker Chukotka entered the waters of the Northern Sea Route from Murmansk and then
sailed alone, aiming to travel across the Arctic route without icebreaker assistance. However the Barents Observer has since reported that it failed. It seems that during the voyage, the ship became icebound in the Sannikov Strait, the area between the New Siberian Islands and the mainland, and subsequently
drifted with the ice on to a sand bank. On November 22nd nuclear icebreaker Yamal, which is mainly used for tourism and
scientific expeditions, arrived on site. The tanker was pulled free and taken to a place of safety. Rosatom said
that Chukotka subsequently continued eastwards, but with support from icebreakers. Yamal is now back in ice waters near Sabetta. No leakages have been reported. Chukotka Trading Company acquired the Chukotka in 2016. She was built in
1982 in Vaasa for Shell, has ice classification and capacity to carry up to 11,000 tons of oil.
The Polar Code
The advent of the Polar Code from 2017 will provide some comfort for underwriters but it has to be seen as risk mitigation rather than a complete solution. Michael Kingston recently of DWF (email@example.com) has been acting as IUMI's adviser at IMO whilst the Polar Code has been finalised and is very well connected to the Arctic Council should anyone have any questions.
The Arctic Council has set up a Best Practice Forum and a very useful information portal http://www.arcticshippingforum.is/ .
APPG Polar regions
Members of the sub-committee have also attended sessions of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions.
Climatic change is varied and complex but effects are certainly observable. Sea ice is decreasing in the Arctic but increasing in the Antarctic. It is believed the Arctic is warming at twice the global rate with a measurable loss of sea ice but the effect of retreating permafrost has not been factored into any climate models. At the last meeting it was advised that the satellite monitoring sea-ice had been decommissioned, thus causing a lack of data continuity. The main threat to coastal areas lies in the rise of sea-level, (currently rising at 3.5mm a year) as some research suggests that a 1 metre rise would displace 140 million people.