Tanker accident on Northern Sea Route

The fully loaded tanker "Nordvik" hit an ice floe when sailing in fragile Arctic waters. (Photo:

A tanker loaded with diesel fuel was holed by an ice floe on the Northern Sea Route and suffered ingress of water. There are no reports on any oil leakage and the tanker is now slowly sailing towards Murmansk.


The 138 meter long, 6403 dwt tanker “Nordvik” was struck by ice while sailing in the Matisen Strait to the north of the Taimyr Peninsula on September 4. The vessel, which was loaded with diesel fuel, struck an ice floe and started taking in water.  “Nordvik” was built in Bulgaria in 1985.

The vessel is sailing towards Murmansk at 4 knots. There is no information on any oil leaks or other damages to the environment.

According to information from the Northern Sea Route Administration’s web site, the vessel had permission to sail in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea.

The Seafarer’s Union of Russia says the tanker should never have sailed in the area, and blames the ship owner, Khatanga Commercial Port, for putting the crew’s and the fragile Arctic ecology in danger.

“Yesterday’s accident was a direct threat to the lives of sailors and the ecology of the Arctic”, Aleksander Bodnya says to the union’s web site. “Vessels like that should not be sailing on NSR, simply because they are not capable of withstanding the ice conditions.”

The Seafarer’s Union underlines that the system for search and rescue is not yet fully developed in the area where the incident happened, and that a serious accident could have been crucial for the crew.  “Not to forget the ecology – a large amount of diesel fuel could have leaked out into the sea, and who would be there to clean it up, is quite unclear.”

“Nordvik” is an Ice 1 class (L4) tanker and is only allowed to sail on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in light ice conditions. The ice conditions in the northeastern parts of the Kara Sea were regarded as “medium” by Roshydromet in the period when the accident happened.