A decree signed this week by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev marks the formal establishment of the new Northern Sea Route administration. The office, to be part of the federal Agency of Sea and River Transport, will be manned by a maximum of 15 people, the decree reads.
By mid-May, the new structure is to be fully operational.
The establishment of the office comes as shipping along the Russian Arctic route is increasing quickly. In 2012, a total of 46 vessels carrying about 1,3 million tons of goods sailed transit along the route, a major increase from the previous year. The new office is part of a Russian effort to strengthen control over the expanding Arctic shipping. In July 2012, the country adopted a Northern Sea Route Law, which outlines a set of new regulations.
The new Northern Sea Route office will be responsible for the organization of procedures for shipping in the area, including the introduction of security and environmental measures. According to the Ministry of Transport, the office staff will handle applications for sailing along the route and monitor weather, ice and navigation conditions in the area. They will also take an active part in the installation of navigation equipment, provide information services and recommendations about shipping developments. In cases of accidents, the office will harmonize search and rescue operations, as well as environmental cleanup operations, a press release reads.
Regional authorities in Arkhangelsk long lobbied the establishment of the NSR administration in Arkhangelsk, however Moscow wanted it otherwise. According to Deputy Minister of Transport Victor Olersky, Moscow was chosen as host town for the NSR administration office so that no other region “would feel offended”.
As previously reported, a total of ten search and rescue centers are planned established along the sea route. Visiting Murmansk early this year, Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov confirmed that a total of 502 million RUB has been allocated to the establishment of centers in Vorkuta, Nenets, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk and that the first phase in center development has been completed, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports. The centers in Naryan-Mar (Nenets AO) and in Arkhangelsk Oblast are about to be completed, while the Murmansk center will be opened in the course of 2013, Puchkov said.