• 2018 June 26

    Hydrographic Company celebrated 85th anniversary

    Hydrographic Company celebrated 85th anniversary on June 25. During this period of time soviet and Russian hydrographers have performed a unique work ensuring safe navigation in the Arctic waters. The merger of Hydrographic Company with the Northern Sea Route Administration will let establish a unified coordinator of shipping in the Arctic with a comprehensive range of tools needed for safe navigation.

    As it is known, the first Arctic charts were made with the efforts of Russian seafarers. However, systemic studying of Arctic waters and depth began in XX with Hydrographic Company established on 25 June 1933. As of today, FSUE Hydrographic Company is under the authority of RF Transport Ministry.

    Research and survey activities are among the most significant long-term tasks related to creation of conditions for safe and efficient shipping and business in the Arctic Basin.

    Among the factors limiting navigation of large ships on the Northern Sea Route is low depth at the NSR lanes.

    The draft of large modern vessels can exceed 15 meters and they cannot sail along the conventional coastal routes including those through the Sannikov and Dmitri Laptev straits with depth not exceeding 12.4 and 9.0 meters accordingly. Large capacity ships need new deepwater routes northwards of the New Siberian Islands and further to the Long Strait. Those areas are poorly studied with some parts of the route featuring “blank spots” (no depth information).

    To create conditions for safe navigation of large capacity ships of up to 15 meters in draft in the water area of the Northern Sea Route, FSUE Hydrographic Company has been performing hydrographic activities from 2010. Bottom survey has been performed at more than 121,000 km of high-latitude lanes. 2,300 miles of deepwater routes have been put into operation.

    In 2014 – 2017, Hydrographic Company performed a three-dimensional survey of the bottom at the approaches to the Gulf of Ob and in the Gulf of Ob at the approaches to port Sabetta and Novoportovsky Terminal – 103,356 kilometers. With the results of those works, total length of new deepwater routes put into operation in the Gulf of Ob and at the approaches to it is about 600 miles. To ensure unhindered navigation in challenging ice conditions, maximum width of deepwater lanes is generally 1.5÷3.0 miles and up to 0.3 miles at some sections. 

    Under international obligations, Russia’s navigational warning covers НАВАРЕА ХХ and ХХI areas in the Arctic through SafetyNet system and with the use of INMARSAT-S satellites. 

    The company has an in-house facility creating electronic charts for navigation on the Northern Sea Route in compliance with the standards set forth by the International Hydrographic Organization.

    The company employing some 500 competent specialists numbers eight hydrographical bases along the entire Arctic coast and a fleet of eight research ships of Arc5 class and unrestricted navigation. Average scope of survey works covers 30,000-33,000 km. Basing on the results of the executed works,  53% of Phase I sea lanes (2 km wide) for large capacity ships has been put into operation on the high-latitude route; 73% of new deepwater routes at the approaches to the Gulf of Ob in the Kara Sea; 100% of new deepwater routes for vessels approaching the Sabetta port and the Novoportovsky terminal.

    The company is also working on creation and updating electronic navigational charts (ENC) and digital information sets (DIS). To date, the NSR package numbers 253 ENCs and 116 DISs developed by the company. They have been used to ensure the first safe transition of the Arctic LNG carrier, Christophe de Margerie, through the Northern Sea Route in 2017.

    As of today, the company’s customers are FSUE Rosmorport, FSUE Atomflot, Northern Sea Route Administration, Commercial Sea Port of Khatanga, PAO Sovcomflot, Teekay shipping company, Dynagas Ltd, MOL (Europe Africa) Ltd, etc.

    The company also ensures operation of aids to navigation in the water area of the Northern Sea Route (288 units per year). To date, the company equipped the aids to navigation with 278 alternate power supply sources.

    Besides, Hydrographic Company provides pilotage services on the Yenisei river (about 60 operations per year).

    One more function of the company – maintenance, operation and development of infrastructure at GLONASS/GPS monitoring and correcting stations and providing seafarers with information about changing navigation situation.

    Sofia Vinarova