Marine Rescue Service prevented a major environmental accident in the Kara Sea

During the rescue operation, two barges with oil products were removed from the coastal rocks on the northwestern tip of Vaygach Island and towed to the port

FSBI "Morspasluzhva" and OJSC "Lena United River Shipping Company" (LURSC) signed documents confirming the successful completion of the rescue operation to remove two barges with oil products from coastal stones on the northwestern tip of Vaygach Island. The operation to remove the emergency ships and tow them to a safe place was completed in the first decade of the New Year by the Marine Rescue Service. The emergency vessels were towed to the seaport of Severodvinsk and handed over to the ship owner. The Maritime Rescue Service vessels involved in the rescue operation returned to their duties. This was reported by the press service of the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Marine Rescue Service".

On November 24, 2021, the Maritime Rescue Service received an appeal from Lena United River Shipping Company with a request to carry out a rescue operation. Two barges "MN-4001" and "MN-4002" with a cargo of oil products (total amount - 7 thousand tons of diesel fuel and 170 tons of kerosene), being towed by the sea tug "Pak", due to storm wind, waves and ice movements fields turned out to be on coastal rocks in the northwestern tip of Vaygach Island. There was a real threat of an ecological catastrophe comparable to the emergency near Norilsk. Already 35 minutes after contacting the accident site, the Beisug rescue ship was sent, which was on duty at sea in the area of ​​the Kara Gates. The Seival and Spasatel Karev rescue ships with additional equipment and rescuers were also sent to the area of ​​the accident.

After reconnaissance and visual inspection, it became obvious that both barges sat tightly on coastal rocks at shallow depths inaccessible to the direct approach of rescue vessels. According to the results of the diving inspection, it was established that all ballast tanks were pierced on both barges. On the MN-4001 barge, rescuers found a hole in the cargo tank. The operation management decided to unload the barges to give them positive buoyancy. Pulling the barges off the rocks was considered unsafe, since this would certainly have led to additional and extensive damage to the barge hulls and a guaranteed spill of oil products.

The work of rescuers was complicated by limited depths in the area where barges landed on rocks, wind, waves, shifting ice fields, negative temperatures down to 20 degrees below zero and significant barge icing. Since both barges were covered with a solid ice cover of about 30-50 cm, the rescuers had to manually break the ice to gain access to necks, hatches, pipelines and other technological structures, as well as to reduce the total mass of ice on the decks of the emergency barges. All work was performed under polar night conditions. Crews and rescuers worked around the clock, with virtually no breaks for sleep and rest.

Later, the Yasny support vessel, which arrived from Murmansk in the area of ​​work, joined the rescue party with additional supplies and rescuers on board. The ship was to be towed by the first barge MN-4001 removed from the rocks.

Thanks to the skillful actions of the crews and rescuers, the Maritime Rescue Service managed to remove both barges from the stones one by one, having previously pumped out more than two-thirds of the cargo from them to the rescue vessels. Since the rescuers had to remove a total of about 5,000 tons of cargo, the removed diesel fuel had to be poured onto two tankers, Urartu and Orlets, chartered by the ship owner. During December, first the MN-4001 barge was removed from the stones, then the MN-4002 barge. For the entire time of the rescue operations there was no pollution of the sea with oil products.

After removing the barges from the stones, the rescuers conducted diving inspections, based on the results of which the calculations of the strength of the damaged hulls were made and towing plans were developed.

The MN-4001 barge was towed by the Yasny rescue vessel, and the MN-4002 barge was towed by the Beisug multifunctional rescue vessel, accompanied by the Spasatel Karev rescue vessel.

Towing emergency barges to Severodvinsk took place in extremely difficult ice conditions. The fleet repeatedly got stuck in dense ice, the elements of the towing line were torn, which the rescuers re-started by hand breaking the ice rapidly growing on the structures of the barges. The Spasatel Karev rescue vessel towed the stuck ships and barges in ice fields, the thickness of which in some places reached 1 meter.

The leadership of the Marine Rescue Service notes the appropriate, well-coordinated and committed actions of marine rescuers who prevented an ecological disaster in the Arctic sea zone of the country. Petitions were sent to the Ministry of Transport of Russia and Rosmorrechflot to encourage marine rescuers who distinguished themselves during the operation.


Photo from the Telegram channel of the Marine Rescue Service
Source: PortNews