Monthly Archives: October 2020

We live in a strange world…

…I am no longer surprised at the absurdity of the reality around us.

Dr. Sergei Smirnov, expert of Center for maritime transport and spatial logistics

The “holy war” against the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the “titanic” efforts of the governments is clearly loosing in favor of the pernicious coronavirus. The side effects of this “war” – the restriction of individual freedoms and rights, the collapse of the economy, the closure of borders, the growth of mistrust and suspicion between people and nations – are two orders of magnitude higher than the damage from the disease itself.

But ultimately, sooner or later human race will come out of the coronavirus deadlock where it has driven itself, spinning the flywheel of information hysteria. And then the realization will come that the old security threats have not disappeared. Moreover, they will be more difficult to address given the aforementioned side effects of the 2020 Pandemic.

Last weekend, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force after it was ratified by 50 UN member states. This is an event of a historical scale. But it passed almost unnoticed against the background of reports from the fronts of the “War on Coronavirus”. Skeptics will say something like “what kind of ban on nuclear weapons can we seriously talk about? The nuclear powers will never give it up!”. Sure, they will be right. But this righteousness contributes to the preservation and even strengthening of the existential threat to the survival of mankind.

I want to focus on two aspects.

First, we see a steady erosion of the international strategic arms control system. Following the ABMD, INF, ‘Clear Sky’ treaties, the key START-III agreement expires soon. If Donald Trump wins the presidential election on November 3, there will be little chance of extending START process. As a result, the activities for limiting and reducing strategic offensive arms, which for 45 years have ensured stability and relative security in the world, will be interrupted.

Unfortunately, this applies not only to a rather formal-bureaucratic negotiation process on arms limitation. On October 14, Washington hosted a regular scheduled meeting of the Defense Secretaries of the United States and the Republic of Korea. Observers noted that for the first time in the past 12 years the phrase that the United States intends to maintain a certain level of military presence in the Republic of Korea has disappeared from the final communiqué of the meeting. The traditional press conference of the two ministers was also canceled. It is known that President Trump seeks to shift the burden of maintaining the forward bases and contingents of the US Armed Forces onto the American allies, as well as to force them to fight in the conflict regions of the world instead of the Americans, or at least pay for these military adventures. “Nothing personal, it’s just about the money”. But such pragmatism tactically can provide additional votes, but in a strategic perspective it can lead to disaster.

Let’s think about how the situation in Northeast Asia will develop if the US curtailed its military presence here. It is highly doubtful that Japan and the Republic of Korea surrounded by “2,5” nuclear powers, will continue to rely on the abstract US nuclear umbrella. With a certain degree of cynicism, it can be argued that the bases and contingents of the US Armed Forces in Japan, South Korea, and even in Europe are needed not so much as a military force, but as hostages in case of a major war. No American president would dare to abandon military intervention in a conflict where the lives of US military personnel who are there with the approval of Congress are threatened. But if they are not there, then the outcome may well be limited to statements of “Atlantic” or, say, “Pacific” solidarity, without concrete actions – why risk the lives of Americans in an “alien” war?

If the negative scenario prevails will Japan and the Republic of Korea resist the temptation to create their own nuclear deterrent assets? Given the huge stocks of plutonium in Japan and the well-known nuclear arms program in Korea, closed (?) more than 30 years ago, such a potential can be created in a matter of months…

Of course, this is a very abstract scenario. But not impossible, unfortunately.

Secondly, the ease and speed of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, as well as the obvious helplessness of the official authorities in the fight against the pandemic, make us think about the threat of bioterrorism in a new way. After all, if a primitive and not particularly lethal coronavirus has caused such shocks, what will happen if a really serious product of genetic engineering appears? Technically and technologically it is quite possible to do this, both covertly and quickly. And we are talking about terrorism. States have long and quite pragmatically abandoned biological weapons, since its military use could have led to uncontrollable consequences, including for their own citizens. But for terrorists such a weapon is just the right choice…

I could specify a number of other potential security threats that we may face literally the day after the “final victory” over the coronavirus. But for now, the above mentioned is probably enough. The team of authors and editors of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Marine Science & Education, which has developed over nine years, prefers publications on the “direct” profile of the Journal. But we also cannot ignore “external” problems. It is difficult to analyze and plan the development processes of the maritime industry and international professional education without taking into account everything that is happening around and directly affects the industry and the region. Perhaps there will be a thematic issue of our magazine in 2021 devoted to the impact of the pandemic on the industry and ways to overcome the crisis in the regional economy. But, our main desire is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Journal in conditions when the economy is working, the borders are open and people are not afraid to meet and conduct a dialogue with each other.

“Rosatom” Expects to Contract the Construction of Two More 22220-Project Icebreakers in 2025

October 21, 2020 17: 10: 03 “RZhD-Partner.RU”: Water transport / News

The state corporation “Rosatom” hopes in 2025 to contract the construction of two more multi-purpose nuclear icebreakers (MPNI) of 22220 project. Their commissioning can take place in 2030. This follows from the presentation by Mr. Vyacheslav Ruksha, “Rosatom” Deputy Director General and Head of the Northern Sea Route Directorate at a meeting on the development of the Northern Sea Route chaired by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin which was held on Wednesday, October 21, TASS reports.

“We are talking about the fifth and sixth icebreakers of this project, it is planned to build them at the Baltic Shipyard. Taking into account the lead icebreaker ‘Arktika’, which was commissioned on October 21, 2020 the number of icebreakers of this project can reach seven.

At the meeting, Mr. Ruksha noted that Russia should continue the program for the construction of new nuclear icebreakers to ensure the transportation of cargo via the Eastern Arctic.

At present, two more icebreakers of this project are on the final stages of construction – ‘Siberia’ and ‘Ural’; the ‘Yakutia’ icebreaker was laid down at the Baltic Shipyard earlier this year. The laying of another icebreaker of this project, ‘Chukotka’, is expected in the near future.

In addition to the first nuclear-powered super-icebreaker of the ‘Leader’ class which is currently being built at “Zvezda” shipyard in Bolshoi Kamen, the second and third icebreakers of this class may be laid in 2024 and 2026 respectively, according to the presentation. Their commissioning is expected after 2030. A series of fundamentally new nuclear-powered vessels of project 22220, created to solve strategic tasks for the exploration and development of the Arctic, will provide year-round navigation in the Western region of Russian Arctic. It will allow reaching the required level of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route (80 million tons after 2024). The unique double-draft design allows the use of nuclear-powered ships of 22220 project both in deep water and in the estuaries of polar rivers. This advantage makes the vessel versatile and increases the geography of its operation.


Freight Traffic Along the Northern Sea Route Will Exceed 31 Million Tons in 2020

October 21, 2020  RZhD-Partner:  Water transport / News

The volume of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route in 2020 will exceed 31 million tons, said Mr. Alexei Likhachev, the head of the state corporation “Rosatom” at the ceremony of raising the national flag on the leading “Arctic” class icebreaker.  “I am confident that this year the figure of 31 million tons of transportations along the Northern Sea Route will be overcome,” he said.

In 2019, 31.5 million tons of cargo were transported along the Northern Sea Route. In the first half of 2020 – 14.8 million tons.

The Northern Sea Route is a shipping route, the main communication artery of the Russian Arctic. Passes along the northern shores of Russia along the seas of the Arctic Ocean (Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi seas). The Northern Sea Route connects the European and Far Eastern ports of Russia, as well as the mouths of navigable Siberian rivers into a single transport and logistics system. The length of the route from the Kara Gate Strait to Provideniya Bay is 5600 km. “Rosatom” is the primary operator of the federal project titled “Northern Sea Route”, its declared goal is to develop the Northern Sea Route and increase cargo traffic along it to 80 million tons in 2024.


Krylov Scientific Center Developed an Azipod Replacement

October 16, 2020, Russian Chamber of Shipping

The Krylov State Research Center, on the instructions of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, has developed a 6.5 MW electric rudder / thruster column drive (Z-drive, hereinafter – ERTC) , which is a possible replacement for the widely used Azipod rudder / thrusters manufactured by the Swiss-Swedish ABB company. In the context of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the EU states, supplies of foreign ERTCs used on most large-tonnage ships were under threat.

Rudder/thruster drives are an alternative to traditional straight shaft drives, and the scale of their use in world shipbuilding is rapidly increasing due to a number of economic and technical advantages provided by its use. That is, for example, up to 15% increase in cargo capacity, better vessel safety and simplified maintenance. ERTCs are absolutely indispensable on icebreakers, ice-class ships, gas carriers and tankers, drilling ships and platforms, research vessels and other types of ships requiring precise dynamic positioning in the water areas.

In the context of a tenfold increase in the volume of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route in the next 5 years, the creation of domestic ERTCs become a strategically important task in terms of implementing state programs for the development of the Arctic. The Krrylov’s ERTC is designed to provide maneuvering and all running modes for ships up to Arc5 ice class inclusive in an unlimited navigation area. One of its main advantages over the ABB Azipod is a combined (water-air) cooling system with reduced weight and dimensions.

“Krylov State Research Center is the first entity in Russia that has developed a technology for creating an electromotive propulsion and steering column in wide cooperation with Russian enterprises. The work done will make it possible to create a standard range of ERTCs of various power in a short time “- said Mr. Oleg Petrovichev, the chief designer of the project.”Creating a technological chain of Russian manufacturing enterprises made it possible not to construct specialized production facilities, which led to financial savings and was one of the main tasks set by the Customer,” added Mr. Anatoly Popov, the head of special projects management service. The mock-up of the developed ERTC has passed a full range of tests in the pools of the Krylov Center, including the unique ice pool. In September of this year, bench tests of the manufactured prototype were successfully completed, which confirmed the calculated characteristics of the system. “In conditions of significant uncertainty in terms of the required characteristics of the promising column, it was decided to develop a sample with the widest possible range of applications due to the implementation of the ice resistance requirements of at least Arc5. In the course of the design, during research in the ice pool, the independent movement of the vessel from the continuous ice field developed by EDRK with an equivalent thickness of up to 1.6 m and movement in the channel in the ice field up to 2.2 m thick were modeled. Arc5 requirements provide for independent navigation in rarefied one-year Arctic ice up to 0.8 m thick during spring navigation and up to 1.0 m during summer and autumn navigation. At the same time, the designed ERTC provides for both the Arctic and standard versions with the highest possible level of unification between them, “added Mr. Dmitrii Novikov, Deputy General Director for Special Projects.


Interesting Data on the Structure of Russian Exports

September 24, RZhD-Partner

Transport companies that provide export logistics services for Russian goods process no more than 15% of total exports, said Sergei Safonnikov, head of foreign economic activities of the FEC (“First Expeditionary Company”) transport company, during the “Export without Borders: Practical Advice on Working with China” webinar organized by the “Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs” on September 24, 2020.

According to the FEC data, 55% of Russian exports are oil and petroleum products, 15% belong to the ‘non-public’ group of customs statistics (weapons and products for nuclear energy), 12% of cargo is transported by special types of transport (liquid, bulk, etc.). ) and only 15% falls on the share of goods suitable for carriage by cars or in containers. About 50% of these commodities are timber and wood products, as well as the transportation of food and chemical raw materials. The main directions for export transportation of goods by automobiles today are China, the CIS countries and Turkey.


FESCO Icebreaking Vessel Heads for Antarctic Again

October 15, SeaNews

FESCO Transport Group and the National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research of the Indian Ministry of Geosciences (NCPOR) have renewed the contract to provide Indian Antarctic research stations in 2020-2021. It will be the third expedition to be held under a contract with NCPOR, FESCO told SeaNews.

The icebreaking transport vessel ‘Vasily Golovnin’ will start a new voyage from Cape Town at the end of December 2020. The vessel will deliver general cargo, foodstuffs and fuel to the Indian Antarctic stations “Bharati” and “Maitri“, remove decommissioned equipment, household and technical waste. The expedition will also include NCPOR scientists onboard the ship. Two helicopters and a self-propelled barge will operate from the ‘Vasily Golovnin’ to deliver cargo to the shore. The voyage will last until April 2021.

Vasily Golovnin’, the diesel-electric supply ship operated by FESCO transport group has successfully completed the unloading of equipment at the Indian Antarctic research station ‘Bharati’. During her last Antarctic voyage (December 2019-April 2020), ‘Vasily Golovnin’ delivered supplies and new shift of polar explorers to both Indian Antarctic stations, and took appr. 200 tons of accumulated waste and decommissioned equipment for transportation to the place of utilization. The ship also delivered 250 tons of cargo to the Belgian scientific station ‘Princess Elisabeth Antarctica’ during that voyage.


A2A May Revitalize Bering Strait Crossing Project

October 13, InfraNews

The US President’s approval of the construction of a new railroad that will link Alaska to Canada’s rail network has sparked interest in an even more ambitious infrastructure project that could connect the northernmost state of the United States to the Russian Far East and further to Asia, TASS reports citing ‘South China Morning Post’.

In September, US President Donald Trump approved the Alaska-Alberta Railroad project (A2A). The construction cost of the 2,400 km highway is estimated at US $ 22 billion. This project could become the first link in the railway network linking Asia directly with America through the Bering Strait.

The idea of ​​building a crossing over the Bering Strait was proposed at the end of the XIX Century. The strait is 85 km wide and only 55 meters deep, it is not prone to tides, there are no strong currents. Anyway, the tunnel is preferable since the steel bridge structures are vulnerable in the arctic climate. The construction of the crossing would be a major breakthrough in the implementation of China’s “Belt and Road” Strategy. However, the project attracted many protests and became the subject of heated discussions. Its opponents point to the huge costs, the complexity of implementation from the point of view of engineering tasks, the detrimental impact on the environment, the risks of opening the borders for a potential enemy.


Coal Seaport on Sakhalin Island Will Increase Annual Throughput to 14 million tons

Two modern self-propelled barges with a combined deadweight of 15,000 tons will join the auxiliary fleet  of  Shakhtersk coal seaport on Sakhalin Island. The vessels will increase the port’s coal processing capacity by 1.9 million tons per year, the press service of the “Eastern Mining Company” told TASS reporters.

It was noted that the barges are now being towed from the port of Moulamyain (Myanmar) to the shipyard in the Chinese Weihai district for modernization. After completion the barges will be registered in the Russian International Register of Ships and repositioned to the RINA class of the international classification society RINA S.p.A. (Registro Italiano Navale). Then the barges will be towed to the Sakhalin port of Shakhtersk and will commence coal reloading operations by the beginning of 2021 navigational period.

“The purchase of two additional self-propelled barges will help optimize the sea cycle and increase the port’s throughput by 1.9 million tons per year. The new barges were purchased with the attraction of investments from the company “Rocktree VGK STV”, which was created to develop offshore coal shipment in the Uglegorsk region (Sakhalin) in the free port of Vladivostok (FPV) mode. The investments amounted to about 690 million rubles”, the press service said.

According to the company, currently the port’s throughput capacity is 11-12 million tons per year. Thanks to the new barges named ‘Star Excellence’ and ‘Star Success’, the figure will increase to 14 million tons per year, which is a significant progress for the export of solid fuel to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The “Eastern Mining Company” LLC is the main coal mining enterprise in the Sakhalin Region, which accounts for about 80% of all coal production in the region. The confirmed reserves exceed 300 million tons of coal on Sakhalin Island and more than 100 million tons have been explored in the Magadan region. Its main assets – “Solntsevsky coal mine LLC” and Shakhtersk coal seaport operating in the framework of the Free Port regime –were acquired by the company in 2013.


“Viktor Chernomyrdin’ Icebreaker to Join “ROSMOTPORT” on November 3, 2020

The 25 MW ‘Viktor Chernomyrdin’ icebreaker will be handed over to “Rosmorport” FSUE (the customer) on November 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg, coincided with the birthday of Viktor Chernomyrdin. It was told by Mr. Alexei Rakhmanov, the head of the “United Shipbuilding Corporation” (USC) on October 7, during his presentation for the Council of Federation of Russia.

‘Viktor Chernomyrdin’ is one of the most powerful diesel-electric icebreakers in the world. The vessel with a displacement of 22.3 thousand tons has a speed of about 17 knots in clear water and is capable to break continuous ice field up to three meters thick with a snow cover of 20 cm at a speed of 2 knots, both in forward and reverse directions. The icebreaker is highly maneuverable; it is equipped with a pneumatic hull flushing system protecting against the formation of a snow-ice crust. Crew 38 people, endurance 61 days.

Besides the standard mission of icebreaking support and towage of other ships in heavy ice ‘Viktor Chernomyrdin’ is capable of transporting and supplying scientific expeditions and tourists in the Arctic and Antarctic voyages. The ship accommodates up to 90 people in addition to her crew, there are special rooms and laboratories suited for the placement of scientific equipment. The icebreaker can serve as a fire-fighting vessel as well. Diesel icebreaker with a capacity of 25 MW, project 22600 “Viktor Chernomyrdin” was laid down at the “Baltic Shipyard” on October 10, 2012, launched on December 30, 2016, the acceptance certificate was signed at the end of September 2020.