December 28 2020
The Onega of the Variant Fishing (Murmansk), reported missing in the Barents Sea. Photo: Victor Morozov
The Onega, a trawler of the Russian Variant Fishing of Murmansk, a 39m long unit with a gross tonnage of 358 tons, armed by 19 sailors, and built in 1979 in Norway, at Vaagland Batbyggeri, sank body and soul, after having launched a distress call.
It was this morning, at 7:30 a.m. local time, that the authorities were alerted and immediately mobilized help to come to the aid of the Onega's crew, with one ship in the area and four others in the process of arriving.
Sea conditions were difficult at the time of the tragedy - which made it impossible to send a plane to the area - and it appears that icing on the trawler was the cause of its sinking. Icing is the creation of a thicker and thicker layer of ice on the vessel that weighs it down, immobilizes it and then sinks it.
At the end of the first rescue operations, two sailors were rescued, a deckhand and a navigator, a body was recovered, and 16 people are still missing.
The Barents Sea, in the western part of the Novaya Zemlya island, is famous for its codfish and haddock fisheries. In addition to Russia, several other countries have fishing quotas in the Barents Sea, such as the Faroe Islands (Denmark), France, Germany, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Novaya Zemlya, which separates the Barents and Kara Seas, was emptied of its population from 1955 to 1990 in order to carry out aerial and underground nuclear tests, 132 tests of 273 megatons between 1955 and 1990. The island is now used as a cemetery for nuclear waste, which "hosts" 11,000 containers, 15 reactors removed from disarmed submarines and the Lenine nuclear icebreaker, and 5 submerged reactors in the Kara Sea .