Tuesday, October 20, 2020

"Zig-zag pattern. Reduced speed. A Russian nuclear-powered cargo ship steaming outside Africa towards Antarctic attracts attention"

I admit it, I am obsessed with this weird-a** ship.

From The Barents Observer, October 20:

The "Sevmorput" carries modules for the new huge Vostok research station for Antarctica.  

Sevmorput” left St. Petersburg on October 5, steaming south at steady 18 knots. Until this weekend. In the Atlantic, about 500 nautical miles west of Africa, the aged nuclear-powered freighter suddenly reduced speed and turned around for a northbound course. All Sunday, the 260 meters long vessel sailed back-and-forth.

Tracks of the voyage can be seen on VesselFinder.com and MarineTraffic.com, based on the automatic identification system (AIS).

Later on Sunday, “Sevmorput” ended the back-and-forth sailing, but instead of setting course towards Antarctica, she kept a northwest route all Sunday night and Monday morning. At a slow-speed of 6 to 7 knots.

Monday by noon (CET), another 180 degrees turn brought “Sevmorput” back on a southbound pattern, but still at a speed of only 6-7 knots. The ship still sail at the speed Tuesday afternoon. 

Zig-zag route in the South-Atlantic west of Africa on Sunday.

Rosatomflot, the Russian state enterprise operating the fleet of civilian nuclear-powered icebreakers, has not been forthcoming about the mysterious zig-zags routes and reduced speed over the last few days....


Among our previous posts:
September 2020
Russia's Creaky Old Nuclear Containership Is Back To Running Fish In the Arctic
I'm starting to think this is some sort of "Dead Hand" weapon, probably pointed at Helsinki as retribution for the Winter War.
Let it go Russki dudes, let it go.

May 2020
Putin Wants to Haul More Fish Along the Northern Sea Route
I'm not sure what the Russians are up to with this but I'm pretty sure that it's not because moving our finny friends thousands of miles by ship suddenly got more economical. And especially not if they use the ancient nuclear-powered container ship pictured in the story.
As noted in one of last years posts (they are multiple) on the topic:

February 2010
Shipping: This Is Just Weird—Russia's Nuclear Powered Container Ship Going To Antarctica
We've looked at this ship a few times and can't figure out what the Russians are up to.
And now Antarctica? In winter?

Cold's a'comin and even the icebreakers, the American Polar Star, heading for home port and China's Xuelong 2 , currently dropping off supplies for a couple of their southern research stations are wrapping up the season.
Or will it sail in six months? If so why advertise the voyage now?

eptember 3, 2019
"The Nuclear Powered Container Ship Sevmorput Is Going to Haul Salmon Along the Northern Sea Route (and Norway and Denmark)"

This is an odd story. First off the Sevmorput is old. It went into service in 1988.
Secondly, although I haven't asked about the costs, you would have to assume a nuclear cargo ship would have to carry some high value cargo to pay the freight, so to speak.

Last March the ship was carrying construction materials and equipment from Archangel to Novatek's LNG 2 project off the Ob river and we were going to do a post on this oddball ship and its five day trip.
That at least made sense: high-value cargo short distance, entirely within Russian waters....
September 11, 2019
"Norway Would Like To Know If Russia Plans To Make More Salmon Hauling Trips With Their Nuclear Container Ship":
....If only there was some sort of land based transportation mode that could make the trip, something that crossed Siberia, Trans-Siberian if you will, that was comprised of individual cars that could be hooked up in train.  And get the damn salmon to Moscow in days not weeks.

Maybe put 'em on a boat in Petropavlovsk and sail them across the Sea of Okhotsk to Sovetskaya Gavan, whose harbormasters are (reputedly) eminently bribable and will speed your multi-modal perishables on their way west to wind up in some fat mafioso's belly. Ditto for Vladivostok but you'll need to wave a bit more cash to get anyone's attention.
November 11, 2019 
Russian Plan For Second Salmon Hauling Voyage With Their Nuclear-Powered Container Ship Cancelled
Ya think?
They were transporting fish on a nuclear powered ship.
The long way. (vs land transport):
Seriously what are the Russians up to with this?
I'm starting to think this is some sort of Bond-villain caper, with the propeller story just a ruse to cover for the fine-tuning of the under-hull submarine docking chamber.
Or something.

Maybe it's related to the submarine disaster last July that killed 14 high ranking officers (captains and commanders).
We had quite a few links to that Russian oddity:
Just What Was That Stricken Russian Submarine Carrying?

Tragedy at Sea: The Russian Submariners Could Have Been Saved
Still unanswered are the two questions raised almost immediately after the July 1 incident:
1) What were so many senior officers practicing on the deep-diving submersible?
2) Why did the "High Ranking Military Official" say at the funeral service:
“Today we are seeing off the crew of a research deep water apparatus, who died while performing a combat mission in the cold waters of the Barents Sea. Fourteen dead, 14 lives,” he is quoted as saying. “At the cost of their lives, they saved the lives of their comrades, saved the ship, did not allow a planetary catastrophe.
So who knows?