Blog August 30, 2018

With climate change reducing the amount of sea ice, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) is becoming an attractive course for maritime shipping. In the past few years, more oil and natural gas carriers are leveraging the route as a quicker path to Europe and Asia. The latest passage trend recently sparked the interest of the world’s largest container shipping line.

Danish company Maersk is sending a brand new boxship through the NSR. The 3,600 teu “Venta Maersk,” will be the first container ship in history to navigate an artic route. The vessel is the fourth of a new generation of seven ice-class 1A feeder container ships. Delivered on July 11, the ship is designed to operate in cold waters, down to -25 °C.

While the route is significantly shorter than the Suez Canal, it is not yet proven to be feasible for container shipping. Many international shipping firms avoid the route due to high insurance premiums, the small number of rescue teams in the area, and the lack of research. The passage is only open for around three to four months of the year near September when the ice begins to thaw.

New icebreakers are expected to allow for year-round navigation in the 2020s. Russia believes that if more companies follow the lead of Maersk, the route could turn into a second Suez Canal. Genscape analysts already tracked the first LNG tanker’s voyage through the NSR back in July 2018, marking another milestone for the route. New roads and port upgrades are being implemented in the region to prepare for a potential increase in shipping traffic.

maersk shipping

Genscape Vesseltracker AIS data shows the container ship left the Port of Busan on August 28 after arriving a day earlier. It came from the Port of Vladivostok where it was berthed on August 23. It is expected to start the voyage from east to west by transiting through the Bering Strait close to September 1.

By leveraging Genscape Vesseltracker AIS data clients can continue following the journey of the ship through the NSR. The long-term tracking tool in the new Cockpit provides insight into where the Venta Maersk is at on a specific date or time. With the suite of services, clients can better anticipate its arrival or create an alert to be notified when it reaches certain points on the route. Request a trial of Genscape Vesseltracker to track its journey today.