The first serially-produced Sibir nuclear-powered icebreaker, designed to reinforce Russia’s leadership in the Arctic, was commissioned last week at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. It is one of the three vessels part of Project 22220 which are to become the world’s largest and most powerful nuclear icebreakers. The lead ship of the project, the Arktika, was commissioned last year.
The growth of Arctic sea ice this winter recorded the lowest maximum level on record, prompting fears of faster climate change than previously expected. Unusually warm temperatures were said to be responsible for the shrinkage.
The Birkenhead shipyard Cammell Laird said it saw off competition from Europe and beyond including Korea and Singapore to be selected as the preferred bidder to build a new vessel for the UK-funded Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The contract was signed last week and it is expected that full production will start in June next year, and on completion the vessel will be operated by NERC’s British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
The US government has announced new curbs on oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast. It comes after oil giant Royal Dutch Shell last month stopped its Arctic activity citing “disappointing” tests.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday is proposing a faster timetable for buying a new heavy icebreaker for the U.S. Arctic, where quickly melting sea ice has spurred more maritime traffic, and the United States has fallen far behind Russian resources.
The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday granted Royal Dutch Shell two final permits to explore for crude in the Arctic this summer, but said the company cannot drill into the oil zone until required emergency equipment arrives in the region.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced this month the bipartisan Icebreaker Recapitalization Act with Washington Senator Maria Cantwell that would authorize the U.S. Navy to construct up to 6 heavy icebreakers. The new icebreakers would be designed and operated by the Coast Guard, since under US law it is the sole service responsible for icebreaking missions.
Research icebreaker Polarstern left its home port in Bremerhaven on Tuesday setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the Polar Code aimed at regulating shipping in Polar Regions. Several environmental groups have criticized the measures for not going far enough to protect the Arctic and Antarctic environments, arguing that while the new code is a positive step forward, it is insufficient to properly protect Polar environments from the anticipated increased levels of shipping activity.
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association for Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), in cooperation with Lindblad Expeditions, have found a way for cruise operators to share years of depth soundings from the Arctic and Antarctica.