1997 was an important year for Russia's Northern Sea Route (NSR) in terms of foreign interest. The first full transits of the NSR by western merchant ships were made. The International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP) continued into phase 2 of its research projects, and planning proceeded for a European Union-sponsored demonstration voyage to the Ob' River. The nuclear icebreaker Arktika returned to Arctic operations, while two icebreakers were removed from polar service. Information about the NSR became more widely available with the distribution of an English translation of a navigation guide. Winter operations continued in the Kara Sea, albeit reduced, and a limited number of summer voyages to Russian Arctic ports originated from the Pacific rim. RADARS AT synthetic aperture radar images of sea ice along the NSR were used for the first time during several demonstration voyages.
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