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19.2. The northern searoute – Replacing radioactive power sources with safe navigation solutions 

Most of the old light beacons on land in the Russian coastline and islands had been equipped with radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RiTeGs) as electric power source. Since the year 2006 Sabik and JSC Technomarine have delivered a complete solution of navigation lights consisting of lights with low energy consumption and a safe and reliable power source with solar panels and wind generators.

Sabik has started a new case article series and the first release presents our long-term project in the demanding environments of the Northern Sea Route. Read the article in the attached PDF article


The seas of the Northern Sea Route have been sailed from the 1100s. In the 18th century it became an important trade route connecting western Siberia to Alaska, then a Russian colony. Today regular shipping takes place from Murmansk to Dudinka in the west and between Vladivostok and Pevek in the east. Changes in global climate have increased interest and possibility to navigate the whole Northern Sea Route.


Since 1970’s most of the light beacons in the Russian coastline and islands are equipped with the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RiTeGs) as electric power sources. Unfortunately, the radioactive strontium-90 as a primary source of energy can be a potential radiological hazard if damaged. Over one thousand RiTeGs were manufactured in the former Soviet Union and the project of removing them started already in the mid 1990’s. With the financial support from Norway and USA RiTeGs at the end of their life are being dismantled.They are replaced by new, safe and reliable power sources and lights. Removal of RiTeGs eliminates the possibility of vandalism to radioactive material and the radiological threat to people and environment.

Although satellite navigation systems are developing rapidly gaining importance, they will not eliminate the need of the navigation lights especially under the most severe conditions, as is the case in Northern Sea Route.


Sabik has been committed to the project since 2006 in co-operation with JSC Technomarine, St. Petersburg, an engineering, design and manufacturing company of navigation equipment for the maritime industry. For decades Technomarine has been the principal supplier of alternative power sources for the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Transport of Russia. After a stringent study of the navigation light market Technomarine chose Sabik based on the high-quality of equipment, efficiency of the optical system and reliability in the very demanding environment. Technomarine and Sabik have delivered a complete solution of navigation lights consisting of lights with a very low energy consumption and a safe and reliable power source with solar panels and wind generators.

The first Sabik lanterns were LED 350 models installed in the coasts of the Kara sea (Point A in the general area map) in the Cape Suhoy Nos (Point B marked in the general area map) on the strait of Yugorski Shar. Altogether over 200 Sabik longrange lights have been installed to assist navigation in these extremely demanding northern seas.

The Northern Sea Route in Russia, from the Novaja Zemlja island in the Arkhangelsk region to the Chaunskaja Guba bay. The coastline is over 3 000 kilometers wide with some of the most severe weather conditions in the world.

“One of the most challenging installations was a very complex set consisting of an omnidirectional LED 350 lantern, a range light LS 100, a RACON, a monitoring system, a satellite transmitter system and a hybrid power supply with a wind generator and solar panels,” describes Mr S. I. Detinenko, General Director of JSC Technomarine, St. Petersburg. This installation, located in the island of Novaja Zemlja, has operational uninterrupted in the challenging environment of ice, intensive fogs and blizzards. Mr Evgeny Nabatov, Sabik Sales Manager in Russia states: “During the last six years six different Sabik lantern types have been installed from LS100 and LO 200H range lights to LED350s and LED350 ODSL lantern sector lights and selfcontained SC 155 beacon lanterns. The lanterns have been carefully chosen for each site in accordance with the specific requirements and the environmental conditions.”

The common feature of all these lanterns is the reliability and a maintenancefree operation in very demanding environment. The sites are extremely difficult to access and the autonomous operation of the lanterns is highly regarded. The harsh weather conditions characterized by high winds, excessive amounts of snow and even -50 Celsius degrees temperatures create challenges the Sabik lanterns can encounter with an uninterrupted operational reliability.


The Northern Sea Route RiTeG-project is the longest single delivery project in Sabik history and certainly to one of the world’s most challenging climates as well. Mr Evgeny Nabatov is pleased: “The co-operation with JSC Technomarine has been excellent through this long project and it has been a pleasure to work with such professionals as they are.” The project will be finalized during 2013. The forecast is yet around 100 lanterns to be installed in the Arctic coastline and then the area will be totally covered. ”This has been among most interesting and diverse projects I have had privilege to be part of. It is so great to see this coming to a successful finish,“ says Mr Nabatov.


The environmental safety aspect of the project has been noticed in the local media in Russia, as concern for the environment is shared by us all individuals, governments and businesses. ”Sabik is very proud to be part of the project with our environmentally friendly solutions. Maintenance-free operation means also less traffic to remote sites and powering the lights with solar and wind energy instead of radioactive power is a huge step towards preserving the sensitive arctic nature”, sums Mr Jens Berg, Director of Sales and Marketing in Sabik Group, the important environmental aspects of this Northern Sea Route project.