Russian Ferry Damaged by Ice Floes, Stranding More Than 60 People

stranded ferry
Russian ro-ro ferry stranded in heavy Far East ice flows (Far Eastern Prosecutor's Office/Telegram)

Published Mar 21, 2024 2:27 PM by The Maritime Executive


A Russian ferry was damaged in the ice floes off Sakhalin stranding more than 60 passengers and crew while they were waiting for assistance. One of the newest vessels in the Russian fleet, the ferry Alexander Deev (4,800 dwt) was reported by Russian officials to have been navigating in difficult ice conditions for an area that is very familiar with heavy ice.

The ferry had departed Vanino on the Russian mainland for its normal run to Sakhalin. After about 90 minutes the report said the crew discovered problems with the steering gear of the vessel and it was left stranded in the ice. There were 28 passengers aboard the vessel which was designed to transport up to 200 people as well as 35 crewmembers and 28 cars.

The Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor’s Office reports the vessel was unable to navigate with the damage assumed to have come from a collision with ice floes. Built in 2023, the vessel which is 430 feet (131 meters) in length was built with an ice-reinforced hull capable of managing in ice up to nearly five feet (1.5 meters) thickness. 


Icebreaker brought in to rescue the stranded ferry


The ferry was forced to wait for the icebreaker Captain Khlebnikov to come to its rescue. The plan was for the icebreaker to clear the path and provide steering for the ferry which would be moving under its own power. The vessel was going to be brought back to Vanino. Once the vessel returned to port, the Transport Prosecutor’s office was planning to inspect the technical condition of the vessel and the actions of the crew.

When the vessel was introduced the shipping company hailed it as an advance in the operation. They said the vessel was significantly larger and more capable than the old Soviet-era ferries. One of those older ferries, the Sakhalin-8 was expected to take over the vital route between Vanino and Kholmsk on Sakhalin.

Earlier in the year, a supply tanker named Sakhalin Island also became stranded in ice floes in the Sea of Okhotsk near the Japanese island of Hokkaido. A large Russian icebreaker named Bering Strait was brought in to assist, but it too was having problems reaching the stranded tanker due to the high concentration of ice. The authorities reported the rescue vessel was prevented from moving close to the tanker and trying to sail along the safest route, avoiding large ice fields.