Gas Carrier Navigated Through the NSR Using Satellite Technologies with no Icebreaker Escort

26 January 2021
In January 2021, SCANEX assisted in a unique pilotage of the Arctic gas carrier of Sovcomflot Group along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in ice covered waters with no icebreaker escort.

From 2 to 16 January, SCANEX real-time monitoring department provided Sovcomflot's operation center, as well as the gas carrier «Christophe De Margerie» with real-time geospatial ice data on four Arctic seas: the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi seas.


Img.1. The route of the gas carrier «Christophe De Margerie» with ice thickness data according to NERSK

The experts were to:

  • ensure uninterrupted reception and supply of radar, optical and infrared data;
  • provide open data on ice thickness in the Arctic region;
  • interpret ERS radar and infrared data;
  • analyze acquired date (with a view of detecting areas with difficult and easy navigation conditions, etc.).
  • SCANEX experts prepared reports with detailed analysis of ice conditions in order to ensure accurate decision-making of the route.

    One preliminary report was prepared for the entire NSR, and other three for particular route areas.

    SCANEX experts identified the following dangerous ice bodies and areas with difficult ice-conditions: stamukhas, icebergs, enormous consolidated ice floes, areas of hummocked and/or compact ice, as well as old stranded ice fields in the Chukchi Sea.

    During the winter season, high-resolution optical images are crucial to iceberg detection. The Sentinel-1 images with a resolution of 20 m showed a concentration of grounded icebergs at the mouth of the Vilkitsky Strait.


    Img.2. Example of a grounded iceberg

    SCANEX Group thanks Sovcomflot Group for the opportunity to develop together an efficient system of Arctic seas ice monitoring; we are also convinced in further successful cooperation.

    Please be reminded that in 2020 the gas carrier «Christophe De Margerie» became the first ever large-capacity cargo vessel to navigate through the Northern Sea Route in May, which is two months before the traditional navigation period. SCANEX provided data necessary to this super-early passage.

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