Blog from IMO Secretary-General
Northern Sea Route, Days 4 and 5, 18-19 August 2013

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With Captain D. Lobusov of 50 Let Pobedy at the farewell dinner on 19 August 2013

Day Three passed without our seeing any ice during our passage through the Laptev Sea. We navigated to the north of Ostrov Island and turned into the East Siberian Sea, approaching Pevek. At one point, we reached 78N, the closest we would come to the North Pole during this voyage.

On Day Four, when we were getting closer to the Siberian coast, we encountered more and more accumulated ice on the sea. 50 Let Pobedy moved smoothly, avoiding the ice wherever she could, but this was not always possible and, from time to time, we would experience forceful collisions with the ice. By this time, I had become well accustomed to the noises and vibrations caused by the ice-breaking process.

We did not encounter any other ship during this time, except for a Russian hydrographic vessel. She was measuring the water depth, as part of the current ambitious plan to survey thousands of miles of the Northern Sea Route areas in the coming years. It is expected that we will be arriving at Pevek at 02:00 on 20 August, the day the Maritime Labour Convention enters into force.

Icebreakers must sometimes be in continuous operation, without port calls, for more than six months. 50 Let Pobedy can sustain its crew over such a long period of time and has all the necessary facilities, including a swimming pool, sports hall and gym. We played volleyball and table tennis, in order just to experience these excellent facilities. Such arrangements are essential for the crew if they are to carry out their onerous responsibilities and difficult tasks in remote and isolated areas over a long period of time.

At the farewell dinner arranged for us, I told Captain Lobusov and his crew how much I appreciated all the arrangements that had been made and the support provided for our visit.

For me, this has been a remarkable voyage.

I have been able to observe, at first hand, the weather and sea conditions and experience for myself ice-breaking activities and navigation in the Arctic Ocean. I am sure that this experience will enable me to make even stronger personal contributions to the work of IMO in dealing with Arctic navigation and, in particular, to the preparation of the Polar Code.

This mission would not have been possible without the encouragement and the substantial support provided to me by the Russian Government and ROSATOMFLOT and I would like to state my sincere appreciation to Deputy Minister Olersky and Director-General Ruksha for enabling me to participate in what has been a truly memorable experience.