Maersk Feeder Ship to Transit Northern Sea Route

MV Vistula Maersk, delivered in April, was the first ship in a series of seven ice-class feeder ships to serve the North and Baltic Seas for Seago Line, part of Maersk. Photo: Seago Line

Danish shipping giant Maersk is getting ready to send one of its newbuild ice-class feeder ships through the Northern Sea Route – a first for the world’s largest shipping company.

The trip through the NSR will be one-time occurrence as the ship, named Venta Maersk, makes its maiden voyage from China to Northern Europe. 

Delivered July 11th, Venta Maersk is the fourth vessel in a series of seven ice-class Baltic feeder containerships to serve the North Sea and Baltic Sea for Seago Line, the intra-Europe and short-sea carrier of Maersk.

The 3,96 TEU vessels are among the world’s largest ice-class containerships, designed specifically for operation in winter conditions (down to -25 degrees C). Apart from a stronger hull, the vessels are also fitted with 600 reefer plugs for refrigerator cargo.

A statement from Maersk notes that the trip through the NSR is a one-time-only trial run and, at this moment, its does not sea the once-fabled Arctic route as a viable alternative to its current services.

“It is important to underline that this is a trial designed to explore an unknown route for container shipping and to collect scientific data. Currently, we do not see the Northern Sea Route as an alternative to our usual routes. We plan new services according to our customers’ demand, trading patterns, and population centres. That said, we do follow the development of the Northern Sea Route. 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,” the statement said.

Venta Maersk is expected to begin the Northern Sea Route east-west passage on or around September 1 after traveling through the Bering Strait. 

“The specific transit route will be as per agreement with Northern Sea Route administration after careful evaluation of ice conditions. Under plans being considered at the moment, the route will include stops in Vladivostok Fish Port, Vostochny Stevedoring Company, Busan, Bremerhaven, Saint-Petersburg Petrolesport,” according to Maersk.