As readers will be aware I have a particular concern regarding plastics in the world’s oceans. Seas at Risk recently commissioned a study by the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology to coincide with European Green Week. The intent was to provide information on microplastics for decision makers, stakeholders and the public. The study found that the predominant source of ocean microplastics was seed plastic coatings, sludge from waste water plants (which contains plastics from clothing fibres), containers lost at sea and fishing gear that has either been abandoned, lost or discarded. Recent news in Canada, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans notes that a programme to retrieve ghost gear has removed over 200tonnes from the ocean in Canadian and international waters with around 100tonnes being returned to fishers.
Ships and Companies
The ex mv Hanseatic, most recently notorious for sinking a Venezulan navy ship that tried to hustle it into detention has found a new operator. The RCGS Resolute will be renamed Heritage Adventurer, and is being taken on charter by the New Zealand operator Heritage Adventures from May 2022. She will undergo a probably much needed refurbishment and an overhaul before re-entering service. Accommodation will be reduced to 140 persons, and the expected maiden voyage will be in the Russian Far East.
Scenic Eclipse II. After a dearth of information regarding the status of Scenic’s second ship in the proposed six ship fleet, the keel of Scenic Eclipse II was laid at 3Maj shipyard on 12 May. The intent seems to be to now deliver all ships in the series by 2027.
Rev Ocean. It looks like this massive research mega-yacht will be severely delayed, and may not now sail until 2024/26. While technical issues have been cited, it would appear that a major problem is that the hull weight is far higher than expected.
An even bigger (300m long) nuclear powered (molten salt reactor) mega-yacht has recently been proposed that would have 22 laboratories, room for 160 scientists, 20 Experts in Residence, 20 students, 40 guests and 165 crew. It is intended that the vessel will carry a quantum computer.
Representation of Earth 300 from Maritime Executive
National Geographic Resolution was floated out from Ulstein Verft, with delivery expected by Q4 2021. The ship is a PC5 sister to National Geographic Endurance delivered in 2020.
Photograph of National Geographic Resolution from Cruise Industry News
Crystal Endeavour’s delivery was reported in the first update. MV Werften has since received financial support from the regional, and German federal governments, and thus there may be some hope that the sister ships will be delivered. Crystal Endeavour is reportedly 20,200grt, with a two storey solarium and100 suites ranging in size from 28-105m2, she has a PC6 Ice capability.
Photograph of Crystal Endeavour at MV Werften from Cruise Industry News
Albatros have announced that following the delivery of their second Sunstone expedition ship in 2022 (Ocean Albatros), they will retire the 1985 built Ocean Atlantic, although the ship will be available for purchase. Their first Sunstone new building – Ocean Victory will sail to Antarctica in November 2021.
Swan Hellenic is pushing ahead with the third ship in its Vega class expedition vessels. The main blocks were built in Poland, and delivered to Helsinki Shipyard for assembly. Delivery is expected in 2022. The first photographs of SH Minerva have also been released.
Photograph of SH Minerva from Cruise Industry News
Hurtigruten is pushing ahead with “green” updates for their fleet. The Norwegian Coastal Express vessels will receive battery packs, shore power hookups, and engines will be converted to run on bio-diesel. Their Expedition fleet has already converted to hybrid propulsion systems, and will experiment with bio-diesel.
Poseidon is planning to restart North Pole cruises on 50 Years of Victory in July 2021. These cruises will be exclusively for Russian guests, International guests will have to wait until 2022.
Seaventure, ex ms Bremen was apparently “re-imagined” in 2019, and re-furbished in the spring of 2021. As reported earlier, the ship is now owned by Scylla AG and is apparently operated by Viva Cruises during the Northern Hemisphere summer, and Polar Latitudes for the Southern Hemisphere summer. Iceland Pro-Cruises reportedly will operate the ship on Greenland cruises in 2022.
Silver Wind is to be converted to ice class at Remontowa Poland, with a maiden voyage in November 2021. This work was originally scheduled for 2020, and will presumably be similar to the work done on Silver Cloud (pp84)
Jean-Louis Etienne, a French polar explorer is planning a two year odyssey in the “Polar Pod”. This is a Bureau Veritas certified oceanographic spar bouy designed to study the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The trip is forecast to take two years, but no information as to finance, and commencement have been provided.
Polar Pod representation by Jean-Louis Etienne from Maritime Executive
There have been several articles regarding the impact of climate change on Antarctica. A new study shows the ice shelves are rapidly approaching a tipping point in terms of stability. If they did break up, then sea levels could rise significantly within a few years. The following representation from an article in The Conversation shows how warmer ocean water is undermining the ice shelves.
Warmer circumpolar deep water can get under ice shelves and eat away at the base of glaciers
Another massive piece of ice has broken off from the Ronne ice shelf in the Weddell Sea; A-76 is estimated to be 4,320km2 in area.
Imagery from May 10–15, taken by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite, shows the calving of iceberg A-76 from the Ronne Ice Shelf. Credit: NASA Worldview/Scott Sutherland
A further example of serious problems with Antarctic ice shelves is the recent discovery that a lake in the Amery Ice shelf disappeared over the 2019 Antarctic winter season. It is estimated to have contained 600-750million m3 water, and as the ice shelf depth beneath it is estimated to be 1,400m thick, means there must be serious fissuring in it caused by climate stress.
Because so many ships want to use its facilities as a home port for Antarctic cruises, the Port of Ushuaia is extending the 500m long pier used by expedition vessels by another 50m. Work is expected to commence in 2021 and be completed within 1.5-2 years.
Photograph of Usuaia from Cruise Industry News
Iceland is welcoming many cruise operators, and it looks as if Reykjavik will have a busy summer. In addition to several main line cruise companies, the following expedition operators have one or more 7 day circumnavigations: Hurtigruten, Iceland Pro Cruise, Ponant, Lindblad, Silverseas; Crystal Yacht Expeditions will inaugurate their Crystal Endeavour with five circumnavigations. Quark is planning a more traditional Reykyavik to Longyearbyen cruise.
Although limited fights have been restarted from Reykjavik, there does not appear to be any accommodation for cruise passengers visiting Greenland. Quarantine restrictions are still in place for most visitors, but fully vaccinated persons can visit, provided they have a valid negative test PCR test not more than 72 hrs prior to arrival from a Nordic country.
Svalbard is open for certain travellers from countries within the Schengen Area and the EEA with sufficiently low transmission. Quarantine is still required for other international visitors. There is mandatory registration and testing for all persons entering Norway.