Вид с борта исследовательского судна Балтийского флота Адмирал Владимирский в районе Земли Александра I во время плавания к антарктической станции Беллинсгаузен
© RIA Novosti. Aleksej Kudenko

Alexander Bengert: Over 2 million sq. km. of Arctic still to be studied accurately

Alexander Bengert, Director General of Hydrographic Enterprise, has highlighted that the main obstacle hampering the expansion of Arctic navigation is that over 2 million square kilometers of the region’s water surface and adjacent areas have not been adequately studied.

Speaking at the Polar 2023 science and business conference in St. Petersburg, Mr. Bengert explained that this created certain obstacles to the expansion of Arctic navigation, including via the Northern Sea Route.

“All maritime safety issues depend on navigation situation systems, the quality of sounding operations and on the search for correct and safe routes. Our estimates show that over 2 million sq. km of the Arctic have not been studied with the necessary precision,” he said at the conference.

According to Bengert, current assets and the volume of contracts linked with water body studies (for navigation support purposes) make it possible to study about 50,000-60,000 sq. km. annually. However, the Hydrographic Enterprise is planning to study 100,000 sq. km. per year. After exploring insufficiently studied areas of the Arctic, specialists will still have to resume research at preset intervals, given the dynamic nature of regional processes.

For this purpose, it is necessary to overhaul the research fleet. According to Bengert, they have been upgrading the fleet and its equipment since 2019, and about 50 percent of planned projects are now complete. In 2023, two specialized ships will start operating on the Northern Sea Route, and the third ship will be ready before the year is out. The fleet is also being provided with new buoy craft.

This year, Hydrographic Enterprise is marking its 90th anniversary, Bengert added. A substantial part of the Arctic research infrastructure emerged during the first 45 years of the enterprise’s existence. In this connection, specialists studying various Arctic processes will have to upgrade the company’s equipment for many years to come.