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“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.


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.