December 29 - ZPMC RedBox Energy Services believes the current sailing of its vessel Audax from the Bering Straits to Sabetta on Russia's Yamal Peninsula is the first ever mid-winter transit of a module carrier on the Northern Sea Route.

The company's chief executive officer, Philip Adkins claims: "No one has ever delivered modules of this size in the middle of winter from Qingdao to Sabetta via the Northern Sea Route.

"It is slow-going and the ambient temperature is -25 C.

"We have invested a lot over the last two years in the training and preparation of our crews for this type of voyage. I am really proud of them."

Audax is scheduled to arrive in Sabetta on the January 4, 2017 depending on the ice conditions.

According to Adkins, the RedBox fleet of four specialist marine heavy lift ships represents the largest commitment of vessels from one owner handling the huge infrastructure modules that are being shipped to Russia in order to bring the vast Yamal LNG project on stream. 

The company's 50,000 dwt semi-submersibles, Red Zed I and Red Zed II, became the first vessels to transport prefabricated building structures for Yamal LNG in summer 2015.

As weather conditions in the Russian Arctic started to deteriorate and ice limited sailing opportunities, Redbox's two ice-class ARC7 28,500 dwt PC-3 module carriers have come into their own.

The two ships, each of which have ice-breaking capabilities, are capable of navigating year round above the Arctic Circle and will continue to be deployed to carry modules from Asia on to Sabetta, helping Technip to keep the construction project on schedule, says Adkins.