The 5 Russian Arctic Seas have common features, but differ significantly from each other in the sea ice regime and navigation specifics. Navigation in the Arctic is a big challenge, especially during the winter season. However, it is necessary, due to limited natural resources elsewhere on Earth that may be easier for exploitation. Therefore sea ice is an important issue for future development. We foresee that the Arctic may become ice free in summer as a result of global warming and even light yachts will be able to pass through the Eastern Passage. There have been several such examples in the last years. But sea ice is an inherent feature of Arctic Seas in winter, it is permanently immanent for the Central Arctic Basin. That is why it is important to get appropriate knowledge about sea ice properties and operations in ice conditions.
Four seas, the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi have been examined in the book “Russian Arctic Seas. Navigation Condition and Accidents”, Marchenko, 2012 . The book is devoted to the eastern sector of the Arctic, with a description of the seas and accidents caused by heavy ice conditions. The traditional physical-geographical characteristics, information about the navigation conditions and the main sea routes and reports on accidents that occurred in the 20th century have reviewed. An additional investigation has been performed for more recent accidents and for the Barents Sea.
Considerable attention has been paid to problems associated with sea ice caused by the present development of the Arctic. Sea ice can significantly affect shipping, drilling, and the construction and operation of platforms and handling terminals.
Sea ice is present in the main part of the east Arctic Sea most of the year. The Barents Sea, which is strongly influenced and warmed by the North Atlantic Current, has a natural environment that is dramatically different from those of the other Arctic seas. The main difficulties with the Barents Sea are produced by icing and storms and in the north icebergs. The ice jet is the most dangerous phenomenon in the main straits along the Northern Sea Route and in Chukchi Seas.
The accidents in the Arctic Sea have been classified, described and connected with weather and ice conditions. Behaviour of the crew is taken into consideration. The following types of the ice-induced accidents are distinguished: forced drift, forced overwintering, shipwreck, and serious damage to the hull in which the crew, sometimes with the help of other crews, could still save the ship. The main reasons for shipwrecks and damages are hits of ice floes (often in rather calm ice conditions), ice nipping (compression) and drift.
Such investigation is important for safety in the Arctic.