Maersk Containership Completes Historic Passage of Northern Sea Route

venta maersk northern sea route
Venta Maersk in the Northern Sea Route. Photo: Maersk

The container ship Venta Maersk arrived in Saint Petersburg, Russia on Friday after completing its historic one-off passage of the Northern Sea Route from Asia to Europe. 

Venta Maersk, one of Maersk Line’s new Baltic feeder vessels, embarked on her voyage on 22 August 2018 in the port of Vladivostok, Russia. The route included stops in Vostochny and Busan, before passing through Bering Strait on 6 September 2018 on her way to Bremerhaven. On her voyage from Busan to Bremerhaven, Venta Maersk carried 660 reefer containers.

According to Maersk, the passage of Northern Sea Route “went according to plan and without specific incidents.”

“We are very happy to welcome back crew and vessel safe and sound after this unique voyage,” says Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer at Maersk. “The trial allowed us to gain exceptional operational experience, test vessel systems, crew capabilities and the functionality of the shore-based support setup.”

Although the passage is feasible around this time of the year due to lack of ice, ice conditions in the East Siberian Sea still required assistance by icebreakers.

venta maersk northern sea route completed
Venta Maesk docked in Saint Petersburg. Photo: Maersk

Venta Maersk is the fourth of seven sister vessels and was delivered on July 11, 2018. The new Baltic feeders are among the world’s largest ice-class vessels designed specifically to operate in cold waters (down to -25 degrees C), where ice-class is required to offer year-round operations. They have a nominal capacity of 3,596 TEU and is equipped with 600 reefer plugs.

The ships are deployed in the Sealand – A Maersk company (formerly known as Seago Line’s) Baltic feeder network serving Russia and calling St. Petersburg.

Despite the trial’s success, Maersk underlined that the passage was a one-off trial designed to gain operational experience in a new area and to test vessel systems.

“Currently, we do not see the Northern Sea Route as a viable commercial alternative to existing east-west routes. In general, we plan new services according to trading patterns, population centres and our customers demand,” says Palle Laursen.

“That said, we do follow the development of the Northern Sea Route. Today, the passage is only feasible for around three month 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.”