50 Let Pobedy, a nuclear-powered icebreaker operated by FSUE Atomflot had completed the ice escort of Christophe de Margerie, an LNG carrier (Sovcomflot PJSC) in the port of Sabetta, Gulf of Ob, Kara Sea, on Feb 19. For the first time in the history of Arctic navigation in this period, a nuclear icebreaker escorted a ship from Cape Dezhnev along the whole Northern Sea Route. The ships have covered 2,449 nautical miles.
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“The successful escort of a Yamalmax-class LNG tanker shows the preparedness of the nuclear icebreaking fleet for considerable extension of the navigation season in the Northern Sea Route,” said Mustafa Kashka, CEO at FSUE Atomflot. "The year-round polar navigation has always been a lifelong dream of the Arctic pioneers. ROSATOM is consistently preparing for the implementation of this ambitious goal. The company is renewing the fleet of nuclear icebreakers; we established the Marine Operations Headquarters to provide navigators with complete ice and hydrometeorological data. In St. Petersburg, we run the Arctic Maritime Competence Center for training and skill improvement of our sailors."
On Feb 7, the nuclear icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy took the Yamalmax-class LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie under escort off Cape Dezhnev, and the ships started moving westwards. Maximum ice pack thickness along the convoy route was up to 1.5 meters.
“The navigation guidelines and information support of Atomflot's Marine Operations Headquarters enabled optimal conditions for the LNG tanker escort”, said Dmitry Lobusov, the icebreaker's shipmaster. "Average speed of the convoy was 8.6 knots. Technical capabilities of the ships and professionalism of the crews helped to pass the route safely".
Currently, Rosatom, NOVATEK PJSC, and Sovcomflot PJSC are considering ice escort of an LNG carrier eastwards in April or May this year.
For reference:
ROSATOM is empowered with the functions of the Northern Sea Route infrastructure operator. One of the company's priority goals is to ensure safe year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route to deliver hydrocarbon products to the Asia-Pacific markets. In 2020, FSUE Atomflot performed an ultra-early experimental escort. Yamal, a nuclear icebreaker operated by FSUE Atomflot (a subsidiary of Rosatom) completed ice escort of Christophe de Margerie LNG carrier (Sovcomflot PJSC) at the eastern ice edge of the Chukchi Sea on May 30. The route started from the port of Sabetta, Gulf of Ob, Kara Sea. On May 18, being loaded, Christophe de Margerie left Sabetta. On May 19, at the rendezvous point at the Kara Sea ice edge, Yamal took the tanker under escort. The icebreaker led the LNG carrier along the 2,200-nm route.
On June 2, 2020, off Cape Serdze Kamen, the Chukchi Sea, the Atomflot's nuclear icebreaker Yamal had finished escorting the LNG tanker Vladimir Voronin. The ships headed along the eastern zone of the Northern Sea Route. On May 24,  Vladimir Voronin left the port of Sabetta with cargo. The tanker held a course for the Kara Sea. On May 25, the nuclear icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy took the ship under escort, and the convoy started moving eastwards. On May 27, having left the shore ice of the Vilkitsky Strait, the icebreaker finished the escort mission. Alone, the LNG tanker passed the Laptev Sea and, partly, the East Siberian Sea along the route recommended by the Atomflot's Marine Operations Headquarters. On June 1, off Pevek, the tanker passed under escort of the nuclear icebreaker Yamal. Totally, Vladimir Voronin had covered 760 nautical miles being escorted by nuclear-powered icebreakers.
Source: Communications Department of FSUE Atomflot