Monday, January 24, 2011

Shipping Groups Achieve Another Successful Freight Transit Of The North East Passage

Voyage Accomplished Despite Appalling Conditions
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – ALASKA - Following on from our previous stories regarding opening up the sea routes for shipping using the formerly impassable Northern routes passing close to the Arctic Circle comes new from logistics specialist GAC of their plans to expand their freight operations in the frozen regions.

GAC Norway welcomed the ice-breaking Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel 'Tor Viking II' belonging to Rederi AB Transatlantic to Hammerfest after its transit of the ice-bound North East Passage, under a new agency agreement that brings together two companies as they look Northward for new ventures. This latest transit was the first time a commercial vessel had used the Northern Sea Route so late in the year and the route from Alaska to Norway took three weeks off the normal transit time via the Panama Canal, not to mention the savings on fuel, operational costs and emission reductions.

The 'Tor Viking II', which set off via Siberian waters after icebreaking duties in Alaska through to the Autumn, had first made the passage in 2007, being the first Swedish ship to do so since A.E. Nordensköld's passage with Vega in 1878-79, was skippered by the same Master as then, Captain Erik Almkvist who commented:

"The ice situation became more and more difficult as we proceeded to the north-west from the Bering Strait. With ice over 60cm thick and with ridges several metres thick, the passage was more difficult this time compared to our voyage in November 2007. When we arrived at Hammerfest, GAC had arranged all necessary clearances and requirements for our stay. Their pre-arrival information and service was very professional and helpful."

GAC is expanding its Arctic operations with branches in Spitsbergen as well as Hammerfest, as part of the company’s strategic plan to grow further in the region. GAC Norway's Managing Director, Ahmet Ozsoy said:

"We are proud and happy to have been appointed to handle TransAtlantic's agency and logistics needs in northern Norway and look forward to helping both companies achieve their Arctic ambitions."

Significant future oil and gas extraction is expected to take place in new fields in the Arctic waters, promoting demand for specialist ice-going offshore vessels with specially-trained crews. GAC believe their expertise and global experience in the energy sector, coupled with TransAtlantic's proven capabilities in executing operations in ice and harsh weather conditions, look set to play an important part as oil and gas exploration gathers momentum.

Photo:- Courtesy of Transatlantic