Ship ran aground at Franz Josef Land | Polarjournal
Expedition vessel “Mikhail Somov” has been in operation since 1975 and is capable of breaking ice up to 70 centimeters. (Photo: Yuri Dvornikov)

Reports emerged on July 25 that the research vessel “Mikhail Somov” ran aground near the Franz Josef Land archipelago. According to the information, there is no danger of fuel leakage. The vessel is carrying 91 people, with nobody injured. The Prosecutor’s Office for Transport in Arkhangelsk is conducting an investigation in connection with the grounding.

According to Russian media, the crew inspected all premises to assess the condition of the ship. Surveys are conducted around the ship and depth measurements taken. The expedition and crew members are fully supplied with drinking water and food, and the galley fully functional.

The expedition vessel “Mikhail Somov” ran aground in Franz Josef Land, between Komsomol Island and Wilczek Land.

The vessel had left Arkhangelsk on July 4 and was to deliver about 800 tons of cargo to 21 polar stations on the islands and along the coast of the White Sea, Barents Sea and Kara Sea. Part of the mission had already been fulfilled and some of the cargo had been delivered. Furthermore, it was planned that scientists maintain some automatic weather stations or repair them.

The research expedition ship “Mikhail Somov” is a diesel-electric powered vessel that can be used for ice navigation with a solid ice thickness of up to 70 cm. The ship was built by the Soviet Union in the shipyard facilities of the then ‘Kherson Shipbuilding Plant’, which is now located in Ukraine, and was launched on February 28, 1975.

Divers need to examine the ship

The ship, which ran aground near Franz Josef Land, is to be examined by divers who departed from Murmansk on July 27 aboard the research vessel “Professor Molchanov” and are expected to reach the site of the accident in the next few days.

After the investigation, a decision will be made on how to get the ship afloat again and whether the expedition will have to be evacuated. It is not known how long the investigation of the “Mikhail Somov” will take.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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