Common solutions and challenges to the traverse of sea ice by ships
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The specific challenges of ship operations in sea ice-covered waters of the Arctic depend on factors including the purpose of the operation, the capabilities of the ship and equipment available, the degree of situational awareness and crew experience. Focusing on transits of sea ice in the waters of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), this study demonstrates that the solutions currently employed range from active route finding to accepting getting beset in ice, apparently depending on the purpose of operation. Challenges and operational constraints are discussed. The analysis is based on data provided by the NSR Administration, vessel motion data from satellite-borne receivers of Automatic Identification System signals (S-AIS data of AISSat-1), and sea ice products (AMSR2 ice concentration, ice charts). Travel times northeast of Severnaya Zemlya ranged from 1 to 6 days, depending on ice pressure. A statistical relationship between travel time and ice conditions has been obtained east of the New Siberian Islands. Further insights may be gained by consulting with mariners operating in sea ice-covered waters professionally. Awareness of the actual challenges and preferences of the crew will help guide further research and development in to the most relevant areas.