Friday, August 23, 2013

The Northern Sea Route is Open for Container Ships

The Sueddeutche Zeitung reports that the Chinese shipping line Cosco has sailed a container ship from Dalian August 8 to arrive in Rotterdam in the second week of September, cutting two weeks off the normal trip through the Suez Canal.  As they say the Northern Sea Route is open for business.

The Russian authorities have issued permits for at least 393 ships to navigate the Northern Sea Route up from 4 in 2010.

To quote from press secretary Sergei Balmasov through the SZ

"Our best months are September and October when there is hardly any ice along the entire route. We anticipate considerably more applications for ships if the temperature increases even further in the coming years.  Should the temperatures sink the route would be blocked without icebreakers."  Balmasov said that even ships without icebreaking capability could make the trip now when the weather is warmer.  "Because the passage is ice free and the travel time is lower the costs are lower for the shipping lines."
And this in a year when the ice is not as low as in the last few years.  Still, the shipping industry regards the Northern Sea Route as an experiment, if nothing else because of the danger of sudden ice blockages imposing delays and costs.  However, if current trends continue there will be more and more shipping up north.  From Russia's point of view this opens up the North.

1 comment:

Sou said...

IMO is currently developing a draft international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (the Polar Code), which would cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles...

...2013 seems set to be a record year for maritime activity on the Northern Sea Route. There has been a tenfold increase in the number of vessels using the route during recent years. In 2012, 46 vessels sailed the whole route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010.

Plus the much-publicised chinese ship.