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Four icebreakers for missile cruiser – none for damaged tanker

Nuclear icebreakers escorting Russia's heavy missile cruiser "Petr Veliky" along the Northern Sea Route. (Photo: mil.ru)

The Northern Fleet’s flag ship «Petr Veliky» was escorted by no less than four nuclear-powered icebreakers on its voyage eastwards along the Northern Sea Route. At the same time a damaged tanker fully loaded with diesel fuel has been waiting for assistance for a week after it was struck by an ice floe.

Location

A vessel group consisting of ten different vessels from the Northern Fleet and led by the heavy missile cruiser “Petr Veliky” yesterday sailed through the Matisen Strait north of the Taymyr Peninsula, the Defense Ministry’s web site reads. The group was escorted by no less than four of Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreakers, among them the two largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world, “50 Let Pobedy” and “Yamal”. Also the two shallow-water nuclear icebreakers “Vaygach” and “Taymyr” were put in to escort the world’s largest battlecruiser through the crumbling ice.

Watch video from the Northern Fleet’s voyage along the Northern Sea Route on TV Zvezda.

Matisen Strait is the same place where a nearly 30 year old tanker loaded with diesel oil has been waiting for assistance for a week after it collided with an ice floe and started taking in water.

The 6403 dwt tanker “Nordvik” was struck by ice in the area last Wednesday while sailing in medium ice conditions – in all probability without icebreaker escort, while it only had permission to sail in light ice conditions. In the first information about the accident – which came from the Seafarer’s Union of Russia and not from any governmental source, it was said that the vessel was on its way to Murmansk, but later information from the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport revealed that the tanker was drifting in the area, waiting for another tanker to come and unload the diesel and for an icebreaker to come and escort the vessel to port.

Ship-to-ship reloading of oil in ice conditions is considered to be a risky business, but in this situation it is probably safer than trying to sail the damaged ship to port.