IMO Secretary-General goes Arctic

Secretary-General of IMO Koji Sekimizu visited Antarctica in December 2012, now he is going to the Arctic. (Photo: Karine Langlois/IMO)

Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Koji Sekimizu departs on a 5-day Arctic sea voyage with a Russian nuclear icebreaker as part of a fact-finding mission to the region.


Sekimizu will be the guest of the Russian Government aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 years of Victory” as she voyages on the Northern Sea Route. He will commence his voyage on August 15 from the port of Dikson, in the Kara Sea, before undertaking a 1,680 nautical miles trip to Pevek, in the East Siberian Sea.

Sekimizu will be accompanied on the voyage by high level officials from the Russian Government and from the shipping industry, among them Deputy Minister of Transport Victor Olerskiy, Director General of Atomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha,  and Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to IMO Yury Melenas, IMO’s web site reads.

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The trip comes against a background of increasing interest within the global shipping community in utilizing the Northern Sea Route and other northern passages, as Arctic sea ice recedes and the navigation season becomes longer.

During the voyage Sekimizu will see, at first hand, the effects of climate change on the sea ice coverage, and assess how the facilities and infrastructure needed for Arctic navigation are being developed along the Siberian coastline of the Russian Federation. He will use the voyage to observe and experience the difficulties inherent in Arctic navigation, such as poor weather conditions and the relative lack of good charts, communication systems and other navigational aids that pose challenges for mariners.

IMO is currently developing a draft international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (the Polar Code), which would cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.

For Koji Sekimizu, this mission marks the continuation of a growing first-hand involvement in the complex issues surrounding increased maritime activity in polar waters. In December 2012, he visited Antarctica as a guest of the Government of Chile, and earlier this year experienced ice navigation in northern waters aboard a Finnish icebreaker.