Northern Sea Route

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Map of the Arctic region showing the Northern Sea Route, in the context of the Northeast Passage, and Northwest Passage[1]

The Northern Sea Route (Russian: Се́верный морско́й путь, Severnyy morskoy put, shortened to Севморпуть, Sevmorput) is a shipping route officially defined by Russian legislation as lying east of Novaya Zemlya and specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from the Kara Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait. The entire route lies in Arctic waters and within Russia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Parts are free of ice for only two months per year. The overall route on Russia's side of the Arctic between North Cape and the Bering Strait has been called the Northeast Passage, analogous to the Northwest Passage on the Canada side.

While the Northeast Passage includes all the East Arctic seas and connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Northern Sea Route does not include the Barents Sea, and it therefore does not reach the Atlantic.[1][2][3]

Melting Arctic ice caps are likely to increase traffic in and the commercial viability of the Northern Sea Route.[4][5] One study, for instance, projects, "remarkable shifts in trade flows between Asia and Europe, diversion of trade within Europe, heavy shipping traffic in the Arctic and a substantial drop in Suez traffic. Projected shifts in trade also imply substantial pressure on an already threatened Arctic ecosystem."[6]

History[edit]

The route was first conquered by Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld's Vega expedition.

Since the mid-1930s the Northern Sea Route has been an officially managed and administered shipping route along the northern/Arctic coast of Russia. The administrative entity was sequentially updated, upgraded, and renamed. Its current incarnation was the establishment of the Russian Federal State Institution (FGUP) “The Northern Sea Route Administration” in 2013 "to organize navigation in the water area of the Northern sea route by issuing navigation permissions and contributing to support activities."[7]

Number of complete through transits per flag state.[8]

Year Total Russia Singapore Finland Norway Germany Spain China Greece Hong Kong Sweden Netherlands Other
2011 41 26 4 2 2 1 1 5
2012 46 18 6 5 2 15
2013 71 46 2 2 2 1 18
2014 53 47 3 3
2015 18 10 2 1 1 4
2016 18 7 1 2 8

In August 2017, the first ship traversed the Northern Sea Route without the use of ice-breakers.[9] According to the New York Times, this forebodes more shipping through the Arctic, as the sea ice melts and makes shipping easier.[9] In 2018 Maersk Line sent the new "ice-class" container ship Venta Maersk through the route to gather data on operational feasibility, though they did not currently see it as commercially attractive.[10] Escort assistance was required for three days from the Russian Nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy.[11][12]

A 2016 report by the Copenhagen Business School found that large-scale trans-Arctic shipping will become economically viable by 2040.[13][9]

In 2018 the government transferred the main responsibility for the Northern Sea Route to Rosatom which through its ROSATOMFLOT subsidiary manages the Russian nuclear powered icebreaker fleet.[14]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Østreng, Willy; Eger, Karl Magnus; Fløistad, Brit; Jørgensen-Dahl, Arnfinn; Lothe, Lars; Mejlænder-Larsen, Morten; Wergeland, Tor (2013). Shipping in Arctic Waters: A Comparison of the Northeast, Northwest and Trans Polar Passages. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16790-4. ISBN 978-3642167898.
  • Keupp (Ed.), Marcus M. (2015). The Northern Sea Route. SpringerGabler. ISBN 978-3-658-04080-2.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brigham, L.; McCalla, R.; Cunningham, E.; Barr, W.; VanderZwaag, D.; Chircop, A.; Santos-Pedro, V.M.; MacDonald, R.; Harder, S.; Ellis, B.; Snyder, J.; Huntington, H.; Skjoldal, H.; Gold, M.; Williams, M.; Wojhan, T.; Williams, M.; Falkingham, J. (2009). Brigham, Lawson; Santos-Pedro, V.M.; Juurmaa, K., eds. Arctic marine shipping assessment (AMSA) (PDF). Norway: Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), Arctic Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 1, 2014.
  2. ^ Østreng, Willy; Eger, Karl Magnus; Fløistad, Brit; Jørgensen-Dahl, Arnfinn; Lothe, Lars; Mejlænder-Larsen, Morten; Wergeland, Tor (2013). Shipping in Arctic Waters: A Comparison of the Northeast, Northwest and Trans Polar Passages. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16790-4. ISBN 978-3642167898.
  3. ^ Buixadé Farré, Albert; Stephenson, Scott R.; Chen, Linling; Czub, Michael; Dai, Ying; Demchev, Denis; Efimov, Yaroslav; Graczyk, Piotr; Grythe, Henrik; Keil, Kathrin; Kivekäs, Niku; Kumar, Naresh; Liu, Nengye; Matelenok, Igor; Myksvoll, Mari; O'Leary, Derek; Olsen, Julia; Pavithran .A.P., Sachin; Petersen, Edward; Raspotnik, Andreas; Ryzhov, Ivan; Solski, Jan; Suo, Lingling; Troein, Caroline; Valeeva, Vilena; van Rijckevorsel, Jaap; Wighting, Jonathan (October 16, 2014). "Commercial Arctic shipping through the Northeast Passage: Routes, resources, governance, technology, and infrastructure". Polar Geography. Taylor & Francis. doi:10.1080/1088937X.2014.965769. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2015.
  4. ^ Fountain, Henry (2017-07-23). "With More Ships in the Arctic, Fears of Disaster Rise". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  5. ^ McGrath, Matt (2017-08-24). "First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  6. ^ Bekkers, Eddy; Francois, Joseph F.; Rojas-Romagosa, Hugo (2016-12-01). "Melting Ice Caps and the Economic Impact of Opening the Northern Sea Route". The Economic Journal: n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12460. ISSN 1468-0297. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20.
  7. ^ Object of activity and functions of NSRA Archived 2016-08-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Northern Sea Route Information Office - Transit Statistics Archived 2016-09-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b c Goldman, Russell (2017-08-25). "Russian Tanker Completes Arctic Passage Without Aid of Icebreakers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-26.
  10. ^ "Container ship to break the ice on Russian Arctic route". BBC News. 23 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  11. ^ Embury-Dennis, Tom (2017-09-18). "Container ship crosses Arctic route for first time in history due to melting sea ice". The Independent. ISSN 0951-9467. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  12. ^ Humpert, Malte (2017-09-14). "Maersk Container Ship Transits Arctic Ocean With Icebreaker Escort". High North News. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  13. ^ "Arctic shipping - Commercial opportunities and challenges" (PDF).
  14. ^ Nilsen, Thomas (2018-07-18). "Vyacheslav Ruksha will lead the newly established Northern Sea Route Directorate". The Barents Observer.

External links[edit]