Photo: Telegram channel of Viktor Ilyin, head of Zapolyarniy district, Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Barge with 350 tons of fuel started drifting in Barents Sea after tugboat broke down

November 07, 2023


The incident occurred in the Barents Sea with a barge carrying 350 tons of fuel and the tugboat that was towing it. The fuel was to be delivered in Bugrino, a village on the remote island of Kolguyev.

According to the Russian Transport Prosecutor’s Office, the rope connecting tug Solombalets-3 with the barge broke. It all happened in stormy weather on November 2. The barge started to drift, which could have caused a disaster had it collided with another vessel.

Viktor Ilyin, the head of the Zapolyarny district of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, later denied this information on in his Telegram channel.

“The information that has been widely circulated in social media that the barge with fuel was drifting is not reliable. The vessel is in the Indigskaya Bay area together with the tugboat Solombalets and the tanker Neptune. The tugboat is undergoing repairs. After completion, the ships will continue moving towards Bugrino,” the official said.

Telegram channel Polyarnaya krachka (Arctic Tern) that specialises on environmental problems of the Arctic, notes that, regardless of the circumstances of the incident, the drift still took place and involved the faulty tugboat in addition to the barge.

“It’s not surprising that the tug broke down. Firstly, it is simply not intended for such difficult conditions, and secondly, it is more than average in age. According to open sources, the ship was built back in 1984, meaning it has already been in operation for 39 years… The Neptune tanker, which made it possible to control the drift of the broken tug and barge for several days … is another ancient veteran of the Russian Arctic fleet (built in 1982, it’s been in operation for 41 years!), and is equally poorly adapted for harsh polar conditions,” the channel reads.

“Arctic Tern” emphasizes that it is precisely this “ancient fleet” that ensures the delivery of goods in the Arctic, despite budgetary allocations for the development of the region.





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