Monthly Archives: November 2020

“Rosmorport” Commenced Testing of the Unmanned Navigation Project

14 November 2020, PortNews

FSUE “Rosmorport” has begun testing equipment for unmanned navigation, the press service of the enterprise said. The project is being implemented with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation with the participation of the Ministry of Transport and the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.

Last year, “Rosmorport” allocated a bundle of vessels as part of a dredging caravan for testing the technologies of unmanned navigation within the framework of the Marine Industry Center of the National Technology Initiative. The “Redout” dredger was equipped with a remote control station for the “Rabochaya” dredging scow, from which the scow will be monitored and controlled. Special equipment was also installed on the part of a single basic technological platform.

Full-scale tests began this November. Testing takes place in the Kerch Strait near the port of “Kavkaz” under the general guidance of the working group of the ‘Marinet’ industry center. The distance from the dredging area to the offshore dump is about 30 km. This distance is planned to be covered by the scow in remote or automatic control modes.

“Rosmorport” expects that in the future one crew on the lead vessel – the dredger, will be capable to simultaneously control all the ships of the dredging convoy at once. This will optimize the number of crew on board and improve the coordination of dredging activities.

Other means of unmanned technologies are also assessed by “Rosmorport”, in particular, remote pilotage, the use of unmanned service boats and aerial drones for monitoring the ice situation.


Comments: The approach by “Rosmorport” to the issue of unmanned vessels seems pragmatic and justifiable. Lower scale projects like dredging, harbor pilotage, small crafts operations can be performed relatively safe and secure due to its proximity to control stations. Larger vessels in high seas are much more vulnerable to equipment failures and foreign intrusion with inability for the real time correction or repair.

A New Kuril Ship to Make Its Maiden Voyage Next April

November 9, 2020

Residents and guests of the Kuril Islands will not suffer from the budget cuts in the region, the government promises. 13.9 billion rubles have been allocated for the “Islands Development” program by the regional treasury. Kuril residents are not threatened with forced isolation either – Sakhalin transport minister Valery Spichenko assured that the region will continue to subsidize as many flights to the islands as necessary. Moreover, in spring a brand new motor vessel will join the airplanes and the old ship “Igor Farkhutdinov”.This year, the Nevsky Shipbuilding Plant is completing the construction of two vessels for the Kuril Islands. The sea trials of the first ship have already begun, and the second is to be tested in the near future. We are waiting for the ships to arrive at Sakhalin in March 2021, and in April we plan to put the first ship on the line,” Mr. Spichenko reported.

The government has less specific information about the new ferries.  One of them has already been towed to Vladivostok for completion at the “Dalzavod” Shipyard, the second is still at the Amur Shipyard in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. So far, the planned completion date for both vessels is set for 2022, but it may be changed for later. The Amur Shipyard already had difficulties with the construction of both ferries, and the date of their commissioning had to be postponed.

Another good news for travel enthusiasts is that even the global economic crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have not forced the regional authorities to abandon plans for “sea trams” along the Western coast of Sakhalin Island. Now the regional Ministry of Transport is engaged in the selection of a vessel for cruising along the picturesque coast. It should be comfortable and fast. Finally, railroad news. Three new rail buses, codenamed “Orlan”, are due to arrive in the region this month. Two of them will also be equipped for long-haul lines and, possibly, will ride between Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Poronaysk Town or even Nogliki settlement. 18 new rail cars have also been purchased recently by the passenger company “Sakhalin”.


Investment Port Dues to Be Introduced in Selected Russian Seaports

07/11/2020   PortNews

05/11/2020  NewsVL.RU

The draft order of the Ministry of Transport of Russia “On approval of the required investment port dues for 2021-2023” has been published. The draft document and the explanatory note to it are posted on the Federal Portal for the placement of draft regulatory legal acts. Public discussion of the draft will last until November 20, 2020.

The calculation of the investment port dues (IPD) for 2021-2023 was made by FSUE “Rosmorport” based on actual data on the total gross tonnage of vessels who entered Russian seaports during 9 months of 2020. A prerequisite for the introduction of the IPS in Russian seaports was a sharp and long-term decline of the Ruble against US$ (more than 2 times), the main currency of foreign trade (90% of ship calls at the seaports of the Russian Federation are carried out by vessels of foreign navigation). Assessment of the amount of lost funds from levying port dues is the basis for calculating the permissible (maximum) aggregate amount of port dues.

To assess the impact of the introduction of the ISS on the competitiveness of Russian seaports, the ‘Rosmorport’ performed a comparative analysis of the cost of the call of the same vessel in Russian and foreign seaports – competitors within the boundaries of the North-Western and Southern geographical sea basins. There is no competitive environment for the ports of the Far East.

For Russian ports located in the Northwest Basin, the main competing ports are the ports of the Baltic and North Seas. Calculations based on a sample of 10 foreign and 5 Russian seaports show that the total amount of port dues in domestic ports is lower by 30% – 60% of the average level for the basin, even taking into account the introduction of the IPD and the indexation of the current rates.

Within the borders of the Southern Basin the main competitors of the are the ports of Ukraine, in which the rates of port dues are set in US dollars and are generally 2 – 2,5 times higher than in Russian ports of Novorossiysk and Tuapse.

Taking into account the establishment of the size of the ISS at the level proposed by ‘Rosmorport’, the cost of a ship call in currency terms will be lower than the pre-crisis level.

In its turn, the Federal Antimonopoly Agency of Russia (FAA) has prepared a draft order on the approval of IPD rates in the ports of the Russian Federation.  The list includes the Bolshoi Port of St. Petersburg, Primorsk, Ust-Luga, Vysotsk, Novorossiysk, Tuapse, Vostochny, Nakhodka, Vladivostok, Vanino, De-Kastri, Prigorodnoye and Murmansk. The fee in 2021 will be 12.31 rubles / 1 GT (gross tonnage of the vessel). The FAA proposes to set a multiplying coefficient of 1.235 for 2022 by 2021 and 1.406 for 2023 by the size of 2021.

The draft order establishes that the indicated IPD rates are the maximum. ‘Rosmorport’ has the right to apply IPD rates at or below the maximum level.

“As for the IPD, I said that it was introduced only in 13 of our 67 ports, that is, exactly where it is needed,” said the head of ‘Rosmorrechflot’ Federal Agency Alexander Poshivai. “And there, in these ports, where it was introduced, its impact on the cost of a ship call will be insignificant.”

*** The government of the Russian Federation approved in 2019 the rules for the IPD collection for the ships of foreign navigation. The amount of the fee must be determined upon agreement between the Ministry of Transport and FAA. IPD is not collected from ships entering the port without carrying out cargo operations or servicing passengers, as well as from transit and ships that repeatedly enter the port after leaving it by the decision of the captain of the seaport or for carrying out deviation procedures.

“Rosatom” Will Take Control Over the Vladivostok Commercial Seaport

November 5, 2020

Mr. Arkady Korostelev, President of the FESCO Group, addressed “Rosatom” with a proposal to “start systemic interaction”. In the Korostelev’s letter sent to the head of the state corporation Mr. Alexei Likhachev last week (RBC possesses this document, its authenticity was confirmed by a source close to FESCO), the prospects of such a partnership are explained as follows:

FESCO already provides transportation of more than 30% of cargo (or more than 10 thousand tons annually) for nuclear power plants under construction abroad;

in “conditions of high market competition and geopolitical turbulence” Korostelev sees prospects in combining efforts of both companies to develop the Northern Sea Transit Corridor (part of the program for the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which is operated by the state corporation). As the top manager reminds, FESCO annually delivers more than 200 thousand tons of cargo to the Extreme North, Siberia and the Far East as part of the ‘Northern Delivery’ program. FESCO’s capacities allow “to form the Arctic logistics and facilitate the successful implementation” of the NSR development program, he is sure.

RBC sources claim that the project has been initially approved by ‘Rosatom” management. The partnership, which is planned to be announced in the near future, provides, in particular:

– “Rosatom” will become the management company for the Vladivostok Commercial Seaport (VMTP), the main asset of FESCO group, early next year;

– The state corporation will take part in the investment program for the development of the port.

RBC’s interlocutors do not disclose the amount of possible investments. But one of them recalls that last summer at a meeting of the NSR international public council, Mr. Alexander Neklyudov, “Rosatom Cargo” Director General, said that the state corporation is ready to invest $ 274.5 million in “one transport and logistics hub”.

As follows from his presentation devoted to the development of the Northern Sea Transit Corridor, the state corporation planned to choose the transport and logistics hub “Vostok” (“East”) just before the end of 2020. At the same time, Neklyudov announced that international partners would be involved in the development of this project – negotiations on the creation of a joint venture are underway with the Arab port operator “DP World” and the logistics company “Integrated Service Solutions GS” (ISS GS, a joint venture of the “Creon Energy Fund” and the “Dubai Investment Corporation”). According to him, the joint venture will handle commercial transportation from Murmansk to the North-East Asia.


Brief comments

The ongoing conflict over the ownership of the Vladivostok Commercial Seaport attracted much attention and possibly has led to a political decision to pass the control over this strategic asset to “Rosatom” state corporation, which is one of few successful actors in Russian business world.If this news is confirmed, the nomination of Vladivostok seaport as the NSR Eastern hub raises a number of questions. In particular, whether the Arab investors will prevail in creation of the eastern arm of the NSR transit corridor and what role in the project will be played by Korea, China and Japan who are seemingly interested in the Arctic transit.

Wreckage Cleaning Process in Russian Ports Will Hopefully Start Soon

November 2, 2020    

Eugene Gaida

Russia has begun to verify the number of sunken vessels in order to clear ports and inland waterways, industry representatives told RG.RU. According to their estimates, more than a thousand sunken vessels are awaiting recovery.

21 sunken ships have been identified in Magadan seaport alone. Reconciliation of information on the number and location of sunken ships was ordered by “Rosmorrechflot” federal agency and carried out by the Harbor Master’s Service together with the regional Ministry of Natural Resources. They found out how many ships are resting at the bottom in Nagaeva Bay. According to the head of “Rosmorrechflot”   Alexander Poshivay, the depths of the bay make it possible to approach the sunken ships in order to raise them. The Marine Rescue Service has all the resources to tackle this issue.

The Ministry of Transport as a whole is preparing changes in legislation to solve the problem of sunken ships. “A bill is being developed to amend the Code of Merchant Shipping and the Inland Waterway Transport Code. It will regulate the disposal of property sunk in sea areas and on inland waterways,” the department explained to RG.RU.

In August 2020, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited Magadan and, after finding a “ship graveyard” in the port ordered it to be liquidated. Interested departments and regions should evaluate the issue of lifting wrecks throughout the country.

In the Far Eastern Federal District alone, 600 sunken objects have been identified in the coastal zone, a source in the industry said. Reconciliation of sunken ships should be carried out in all regions. According to the data two years ago, 837 sunken objects were recorded on inland waterways, and at least 144 sunken ships within the seaports and approaches to them, experts say. Ship wreckage in the ports and waterways represents a serious ecological and navigational threat. Its clearance is a complicated and often costly affair, but it has to be done.

The situation with underwater metal wreckage in the Eastern sector of Russian Arctic is even worse. Besides the presence of sunken vessels and small boats, there also is an unaccountable number of cars, tractors, other heavy equipment and barrels lost in the process of uploading cargo to the shore.


SASCO Celebrates 75th Anniversary

October 27, 2020   Marina Sorokina, Sakhalin.INFO

Sakhalin Shipping Company (SASCO) celebrates its 75th anniversary today. This date is significant not only for its employees, but also for every inhabitant of the Sakhalin Island. For 75 years, the shipping company has been carrying out cargo and passenger transportation, providing a connection between the island region and the “mainland”.

In 2019 compared to 2018, the growth in the volume of transported goods was 20%, the increase in passenger turnover was 44%. Hence SASCO management has achieved significant improvement in financial performance. In particular, the growth of revenue for the same period amounted to 24%, the company’s net profit increased by 56%, the decrease in debt obligations – by 5%. Currently, the SASCO fleet consists of 24 vessels, including 4 ferries

According to Mr. Alexei Pavlov, SASCO CEO, despite the coronavirus pandemic which is detrimental to the entire global economy, the company’s management has identified growth drivers for itself in the short term.

The first is the development of transportation along the Northern Sea Route. SASCO has a specialized fleet for this purpose, with a wealth of experience in the ship crew. This year, as in the previous several years, the shipping company successfully delivers cargo to the port of Pevek, which has a limited navigation period. The plans are to purchase a vessel with a deadweight of about 10 thousand tons equipped with a crane device with a lifting capacity of 60 tons. This will allow the company to diversify its activities for the development of transportation scheme along the NSR. The fact is that the ports along its entire length are not sufficiently equipped, and unloading to an unequipped shore is often required.

The second growth driver is participation in infrastructure projects related to the oil industry, where SASCO is practically not represented until now.

As for the current situation and short-term goals, as the CEO noted, the main tasks in connection with a noticeable economic decline are to maintain positions in such areas as general bulk cargo transportation, liner and ferry transportation, as well as retain human resources.

A dialogue with the government of the Sakhalin region is underway about the fate of two new ferries for the Vanino – Kholmsk line, which are scheduled to be commissioned in 2021. SASCO is ready to accept into operation the ferries “Alexander Deev” and “Vasily Oshchepkov“. Taking into account the fact that these vessels are being built on budgetary funds, the company’s management outlined its vision of interaction with government agencies with a positive solution to this issue. SASCO has recently acquired a powerful ‘Lev Ivanov’ tugboat, which will make it less dependent on weather conditions when ferries enter the port and navigate to the berth.