Absolute record without a single incident
More than 2,500 vessels were escorted to Russian seaports of the Azov Sea in winter navigation of 2016-2017. No incidents related to the icebreaker assistance were registered in the reporting period. Sergei Safonichev, head of FSBI Azov Sea Ports Administration, told IAA PortNews about the winter navigation season and current plans of ASPA.
— First of all I would like to congratulate you on successful completion of the navigation campaign. What was the period of icebreaker assistance at the ports of the Azov Sea?
— The season of icebreaker assistance at the Sea of Azov began and was over as usual, on the dates, typical for a normal winter.
Freezing begins from the shallow bay of Taganrog, therefore the ports of Taganrog, Azov and Rostov-on-Don are the first to start ice navigation.
Harbour Master of port Taganrgog announced the beginning of icebreaker escort season on 29 November 2016. At the ports of Rostov-on-Don and Azov this period started on November 30, at the port of Yeisk – on December 7.
It is not every winter that the ports freeze in the southern part of the sea, but this winter icebreaker assistance lasted at port Temryuk from 31 January 2016 till 20 February 2017, at port Kavkaz – from February 11 till February 20, at port Kerch – from February 11 till February 18.
The last ports to close ice navigation were Rostov-on-Don, Azov and Taganrog - 10 March 2017.
So, Kerch saw the shortest period of icebreaker assistance (7 days), Taganrog – the longest one (101 days).
Hydrometeorological and ice conditions were moderate last winter. Ice thickness at the Bay of Taganrog was up to 25-30 cm, in the open part of the sea – up to 10-15 cm.
— How many convoys were escorted to/from the ports of the Azov Sea in the ice navigation period of 2016-2017? How much cargo did the ports handled during the winter navigation season?
— All in all 2,519 vessels were escorted to/from the Russian ports of the Azov Sea (354 convoys), which is an absolute record throughout the history of icebreaker escorts in the Azov Sea,
Total throughput of Azov Sea ports during the ice navigation season amounted to 6.069 mln t.
— Which icebreakers were involved?
— According to the “Layout of icebreakers in freezing ports of the Azov during navigation season of 2016-2017” approved by Rosmorrechflot on 7 November 2016, four line icebreakers were deployed: Kapitan Moshkin, Kapitan Demidov, Kapitan Chudinov and Kapitan Krutov. Besides, port icebreakers and tugboats were involved: Kama (in Taganrog), Kapitan Kharchikov and Fanagoria (in Rostov-on-Don and Azov), Tekhflotets and Kolguyev (in Yeisk).
For the first time after abnormally severe winter of 2011-2012 the plan provided for deployment of multi-functional rescue ship Spasatel Demidov and tugboats Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Serebryakov icebreaker assistance to/from Temryuk and to assist operation of Krym-Kavkaz ferry service.
— Were there any incidents during the ice campaign?
— Key risks during icebreaker assistance period in the Azov Sea are the collision of vessels in the convoy due to small distance between vessels, taking the ground when moving along the Azov-Don and Taganrog canals due to possible cross motion of ice floes.
I am happy to note that ice navigation of 2016-2017 featured no incidents involving escorted vessels!
— Ice navigation is over, transit navigation opened in the Azov-Don Basin on April 1. What cargo turnover are Azov Sea ports expected to show as compared with the previous year period?
— We expect that cargo turnover of ASPA seaports in the first quarter will not be less than in the previous year.
— What are the tasks of ASPA today?
— Today, the priorities of Azov Sea Ports Administration include navigation safety at its seaports and at the approaches, organizational /technical/financial support of Harbour Masters’ functioning, providing of services complying with the list approved by the federal authorities in the field of transport.
Besides, an important task of our activities is to develop maritime industry in the region including the development of seaports’ infrastructure, creation of the environment ensuring attractiveness and competitiveness of our ports, and, consequently building up the volumes of cargo handled there by stevedoring companies.
Interviewed by Elena Tkacheva