I am settling down in my cabin aboard the Russian icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy after day one of my mission to the Northern Sea Route.
We left Moscow last night, departing the domestic airport at 23:15 and arriving at Norilsk around 03:30 this morning. I and Mr Melenas, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to IMO, were accompanied by Deputy Transport Minister Olersky and Viacheslav Ruksha, the Director General of Rosatom Flot, the national authority responsible for the operation of icebreakers, as well as three accompanying journalists.
Because of the poor visibility due to fog, our helicopter flight was delayed by some five hours and we arrived at Dixon (73.30N, 80.31E) around 14:00. Immediately we visited the Dixon Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) and received a briefing from the Head of the MRCC, Victor Shcurov, on its activities and duties. This MRCC covers all of the Arctic Ocean including the Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and Eastern Siberian Sea from 35.00E to 168.58W, together with the Sub-Centres at Tiksi and Pevek. Radiocommunication and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System are of great interest in the context of Arctic navigation and I was briefed that the gap in coverage of the INMARSAT satellite communication system in and around the Laptev Sea is filled by a supplementary terrestrial communication system.
After the short visit to the MRCC, we finally went aboard the icebreaker at 17:30.
It has been a long day and we decided not to carry out any on-board activity today. We will have a briefing on the icebreaker tomorrow morning and then carry out a number of activities to demonstrate and experience the Arctic Ocean and polar navigation.
It is now 20:10 and the sea is full of light, though the sky is cloudy and with some gusts of wind. Moscow time will maintained aboard the Icebreaker throughout the voyage, and therefore I will set my days using Moscow time so that I will not encounter any more time lag, even though I will travel to the extreme east, approaching Pevek.
Top, aboard the 50 Let Pobedy - high winds but no ice as yet
Above, approaching the 50 Let Pobedy from the air
Below, on the transfer boat with Deputy Minister Olersky
Bottom, At the MRCC in Dixon