The Sedov sails in ice-free Arctic waters. Photo: bgarf.ru

There was no ice on the water, says captain of tall ship Sedov about Arctic voyage

"We had at least expected some minor pieces," says Mikhail Novikov as his 100 years old sailing ship exits the Northern Sea Route.
October 13, 2020

It is the first time ever that a ship of the kind sails the Russian Arctic route between the Pacific and Atlantic seas. The Sedov on Tuesday passed the southern tip of archipelago Novaya Zemlya and is expected in Murmansk in the course of the week.

The voyage would have been unthinkable only few years ago. But this year’s unprecedented low levels of sea-ice has made sailing on the route smooth and easy.

According to the expedition diary, there has hardly been minus degrees during the voyage and sea-ice has hardly been spotted.

“We expected that we at least would have encountered some finely-crushed ice in the Vilkitsky Strait and the Longa Strait,” ship captain Novikov told newspaper Neft.

“But we have sailed across practically the whole Northern Sea in open waters, and we have not run into any crushed sea-ice, nor icebergs,” he explains.

The three-masted sailing ship built in 1921 on the 18th August set out from Vladivostok. Few days later made it through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea.

It subsequently made a stop in the town of Pevek before it sailed through the East Siberian and Laptev Sea. It also made a stop in Sabetta, the natural gas terminal in Yamal.

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The sailing on the Northern Sea Route follows a grand voyage that has taken the Sedov more than 25 thousand nautical miles across world seas since 1st November 2019.

“Following a detailed study of possible alternatives for the bark’s continued sailing, we consider it relevant to propose that the Sedov completes its expedition with a voyage across the Northern Sea Route from the east to west,” leader of Russia’s Fisheries Agency Ilya Shestyakov said in late July.

“We believe that such a voyage will have a great symbolic and practical effect,” Shestyakov underlined.

The ship is expected to reach reach its home port of Kaliningrad on 15th November this year.

The Sedov is one of the world’s biggest sailing ships in operation. It is almost 118 meter long and is manned by a crew of about 220 people.

The Arctic voyage takes place only few months before the ship turns 100 years. The bark was launched in 1921 in Kiel, Germany. It sailed under the named “Magdalene Vinnen II“ and “Kommodore Johnsen“ before it in 1945 was taken over by Soviet authorities and renamed Sedov after Russian Arctic explorer Georgy Sedov.

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