A minimum of 18 ships is stranded in the Arctic sea ice off Russia’s following an unforeseen early freeze. The unprecedented scenario has taken shipping companies aback. Some of these could end up being stranded for up to months as they wait for icebreakers.
In recent times, warmer weather resulting from climate change has permitted ships to cross parts of Russia’s northern sea route without icebreakers. This is how the situation was in November. Owners of ships and other vessels had presumed that this month would also be the same. However, the route has evidently frozen earlier than what was expected.
Ice almost 30cm thick has blanketed across most of the East Siberian and Laptev seas, per reports from the Barents Sea Observer, a Norway-based news site.
The plight of ships that continue to be stuck in five locations will raise concerns in Moscow, where the Kremlin has made significant investments. Russia dispatched two icebreakers to escort an oil tanker, a container ship, and multiple bulk carriers last week, The Barents Observer reportedly stated on Tuesday.
A Rosatom source that was quoted by Vedomosti, a Russian publication, mentioned that the operator plans to get rid of navigation issues with four icebreakers by December end.