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Home* News and Stories → Fishing ves­sel North­gui­der still on the ground in Hin­lo­pen Strait

Fishing ves­sel North­gui­der still on the ground in Hin­lo­pen Strait

All visi­tors and fri­ends of this web­site and its aut­hor a hap­py new year! The tran­si­ti­on from 2018 to 2019 was calm in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – with some of the usu­al fire­works, of cour­se. The Sys­sel­man­nen just had to step in at a litt­le fight at Huset, other than that New Year’s eve went on peaceful­ly in Spits­ber­gen.

But the fishing ves­sel North­gui­der will keep peo­p­le busy for some time. North­gui­der ran aground in Hin­lo­pen Strait last Fri­day. All 14 crew mem­bers could soon be res­cued by heli­c­op­ter, but the ship its­elf remains just whe­re it hit the ground south of Murch­ison­fjord. The posi­ti­on of the ves­sel seems to be sta­ble so far and no die­sel or other envi­ron­men­tal­ly dan­ge­rous liquids seem to have escaped from the hull, at least as far as can be seen from a heli­c­op­ter. Nobo­dy has been in the sce­ne so far, the coast guard ship KV Sval­bard is expec­ted to arri­ve the­re the next days. The first prio­ri­ty will be to remo­ve die­sel and other liquids that would dama­ge the envi­ron­ment. The next step will be an assess­ment whe­ther the ship is able to float so it can be pul­led off and towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Northguider’s own engi­ne can not be expec­ted to be func­tion­al any­mo­re as sea­wa­ter has ente­red the engi­ne room.

Ide­al­ly, KV Sval­bard can first pump off oil etc. and then tow North­gui­der to a safe har­bour. Whe­ther this will work remains to be seen.

The who­le ope­ra­ti­on may be com­pli­ca­ted dra­sti­cal­ly by ice, in any way it is likely to be a race against time: the­re is always the risk that the groun­ded ship slips off and sinks in deeper water. And then the­re is the ice. Even in times of cli­ma­te-chan­ge-rela­ted nega­ti­ve records of arc­tic sea ice cover and a very slow ice deve­lo­p­ment in the ear­ly polar night, the drift ice is now coming from the north and the coas­tal waters start to free­ze over local­ly, as illus­tra­ted by a quick glan­ce at the ice chart.

Just a few weeks ago, all of Sval­bard was com­ple­te­ly ice-free. But things are curr­ent­ly chan­ging quick­ly. If North­gui­der beco­mes trap­ped in ice, all fur­ther ope­ra­ti­ons would be much more dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble. A lot will depend on the wea­ther and curr­ents during the next days and pos­si­bly weeks.

Eiskarte Svalbard

Today’s ice chart from the Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te: the drift ice is on the way and the fjords are free­zing.

Mean­while poli­ti­ci­ans in Oslo are start­ing to ask ques­ti­ons. Shrimp traw­ling is per­mit­ted in deeper waters also in Svalbard’s natu­re reser­ves – the site of the North­gui­de acci­dent is within the boun­da­ries of the Nor­the­ast Sval­bard Natu­re Reser­ve – and traw­lers ope­ra­te in remo­te are­as year-round. The ques­ti­on of the safe­ty of fishing in the­se are­as, far away from har­bours and SAR faci­li­ties, will recei­ve some new atten­ti­on now.



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last modification: 2019-01-02 · copyright: Rolf Stange