MELT­ING ARC­TIC ICE OPENS NEW ROUTE

Boating NZ - - Boat World -

ADan­ish-flagged cargo ship has suc­cess­fully com­pleted a trial voy­age through the Rus­sian Arc­tic, show­ing that melt­ing sea ice could po­ten­tially open a new trade route from Europe to East Asia.

The Venta Maersk, car­ry­ing a cargo of frozen fish, ar­rived in St Petersburg in Au­gust, hav­ing left Vladi­vos­tok (Rus­sia’s Pa­cific port city) days ear­lier.

Ex­perts say this North­ern Sea route could be quicker for ships trav­el­ling from east Asia to Europe (rather than via the North­west Pas­sage over Canada) be­cause it was likely to be free of ice sooner due to cli­mate change. It could re­duce the east Asia-europe ship­ping route from 21,000km (via the Suez Canal), to 12,800km, shav­ing tran­sit time by 10–15 days.

A.P. Moller-maersk is the world’s big­gest ship­ping group and the Venta Maersk, says Palle Laursen, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer, made the jour­ney as a one-off trial. “This pro­vided ex­cep­tional op­er­a­tional ex­pe­ri­ence – and the ship per­formed well in the un­fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ment.

“Cur­rently, we do not see the North­ern Sea route as a vi­able com­mer­cial al­ter­na­tive to ex­ist­ing east-west routes. To­day, the pas­sage is only fea­si­ble for around three months a year which may change with time. Fur­ther­more, we also must con­sider that ice-classed ves­sels are re­quired to make the pas­sage, which means an ad­di­tional in­vest­ment.”

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