First vessel in a series of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers on order can sail independently through ice of up to 2.1 meters thick

From MarineLog

Christophe de Margerie, the icebreaking LNG carrier owned and operated by Russia’s Sovcomflot (SCF Group), has crossed the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in a new record time for a merchant ship without icebreaker support, during the month of July.

Sovcomflot says that the vessel covered the distance of 2,360 nautical miles eastward, from the port of Sabetta (Yamal Peninsula) to Cape Dezhnev (the Bering Strait), in just seven days and 17 hours. Throughout the NSR passage, the vessel navigated independently without any icebreaker support. Her average speed during the NSR crossing was an impressive 12.8 knots.

The LNGC set the new record while delivering a cargo of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant at Sabetta to the port of Tangshan, China. On July 31, the vessel successfully berthed at her destination port. In total, it took her 18.5 days to travel from Sabetta to China.

Igor Tonkovidov, Executive Vice President and COO/CTO of SCF Group, said, “This remarkable, safe passage across the NSR has required the crew’s utmost attention and concentration. Ice conditions along the route were severe, especially in the East Siberian Sea, and the vessel experienced navigation in extended periods of limited visibility. The navigational and hydrographic situation within Arctic regions remains as challenging as ever.

“The crew of Christophe de Margerie was able to maintain a rapid yet safe speed for the tanker through effective organisation of bridge watch-keeping, highly skilled navigation, slowing the ship when approaching challenging ice fields and passing them at a safe speed, and moving reasonably quicker in areas of reduced ice cover.”

The vessel can sail independently through ice of up to 2.1 m thick. Her propulsion system has a power capacity of 45 MW, which is comparable to that of a nuclear-powered icebreaker.

She can sail unassisted along the NSR westward from Yamal all year-round, and eastward for six months of the year (from July to December). Previously, the summer navigation window in the eastern area of the Northern Sea Route was limited to only four months with icebreaker support.

The ship’s all-Russian crew numbers 29, including 13 officers. Each officer has significant Arctic shipping experience and has undergone extensive additional training at the SCF training center in St. Petersburg.

The ship was designed to transport LNG year-round in the challenging ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob. Her cargo capacity is 172,600 cubic metres.


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