The bulk carrier Gingo has become the first capesize ship to sail the Northern Sea Route, according to Russian media reports. Separately, a non ice-strengthened tanker is currently conducting a transit—marking another first.
The Gingo departed the Port of Murmansk on a 13-day eastbound voyage to China carrying 164,600 metric tons of iron ore concentrate, marking the largest single cargo to be transported via the NSR. The ship was assisted by two Atomflot icebreakers.
Ship traffic along the Russian-controlled Northern Sea Route is increasing due to warmer winters and longer navigation seasons, with Russia even looking to conduct year-round navigation through the route.
According to Russia’s Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, freight traffic along the NSR has increased from 4 million tonnes in 2014 to 34 million tonnes in 2022, having become a major transport corridor for the export of oil, LNG, mineral fertilizers, metals and other products. Russia is looking to increase the capacity of the NSR to up to to 100 million tonnes by 2026 and 200 million tonnes by 2030.
In a separate but related event, a report today from High North News indicates that Russia has sent a non-ice class Aframax oil tanker, the Leonid Loza, on a voyage through the Northern Sea Route from Murmansk to Ningbo, China, as Russia seeks to boost crude oil shipments to China. The report said the voyage marks the first time a conventional oil tanker will use the Arctic route, calling it a “watershed” moment for shipping through the Arctic.
“Even in this day and age, a fully-laden crude oil tanker is probably the last type of ship that should be sent through the #NorthernSeaRoute without any ice-strengthening,” Aker Arctic wrote in a post published to “X”. Aker Arctic is a leading builder of icebreakers.
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