GAC meets the port call challenge for nuclear icebreaker

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    11 February 2015



Preparation ahead of Northern Sea Route duty

GAC Russia has sent a 23,445 ton nuclear-powered icebreaker on its way through the Northern Sea Route, signalling the start of a year-long agreement signed with Russian state enterprise Atomflot.

Teams in Murmansk, Moscow and Novorossiysk pulled out all the stops to make sure everything was in order when the Arctic class icebreaker ‘Yamal’ prepared to leave the Atomflot base just outside Murmansk for a tour of duty in the seaway which shortens the distance between Europe and Asia by thousands of miles.

The vessel is one of the Atomflot fleet of five atomic icebreakers, one atomic lighter carrier, four special purpose vessels and a floating crane used to clear passage and escort ships through the Northern Sea Route, as well as to the North Pole.

GAC Russia’s agency agreement with Atomflot was signed after its teams worked together to provide a technical proposal covering all aspects of the icebreaker’s call

After liaising with relevant immigration and port authorities, GAC’s Murmansk Shipping Supervisor Denis Palatov arranged two tugs, a pilot and the necessary permissions for the ‘Yamal’ to leave the base. But when thick fog and heavy snow delayed her planned departure, he faced the possibility of having to make all the arrangements over again, from scratch. Denis kept a close eye on the weather, regularly providing meteorological updates to the Master, and as visibility improved was able deliver the good news that the vessel was clear to unmoor and start her voyage.

Arkady Podkopaev, GAC Russia’s Managing Director, says: “Our handling of the ‘Yamal’ and our contract with Atomflot form part of our strategy to establish GAC Russia as the provider of choice for agency support services for vessels transiting the challenging Northern Sea Route.”

The contract also includes provision of husbandry services to the historic floating museum ‘Lenin’, the first atomic icebreaker put into service back in 1959. The16,000 ton vessel was laid up 30 years later to serve as a museum ship, but it still remains fully crewed, equipped and operational.

(GAC Russia's ability to undertake business is subject to the terms of prevailing sanctions.)