Test summer for Arctic shipping


The German Beluga Group will this year send one of its vessels on a test mission along the Northern Sea Route.

The mission, which is to be made without icebreaker assistance has been planned for a long period. As BarentsObserver reported last year, the Beluga Group already then intended to conduct the sailing. However, the operation was postponed following lack of official approval from Russian authorities.

This year, the sailing will be carried out, reports.

Shipping along the Northern Sea Route will cut sailing distances from Bremen, Germany, to Shanghai with more then 3000 nautical miles.

The Beluga ship will encounter not only complex ice conditions, but possibly also major problems with fog. In addition, the ship will be out of reach for established rescue and emergency services.

The Beluga Group’s sailing along the Northern Sea Route comes amid a rapidly growing interest in Arctic shipping. Arctic warming and ice melting is making major parts of the area open for summertime shipping. That has made Russia highten its focus on the Northern Sea Route. As reported by BarentsObserver, the country is currently in the process of approving a new law on shipping along the route.

Arctic shipping is also followed up by researchers. The research project “Ice Load Monitoring” organized under the DNV, shows that Arctic shipping is possible, but that varying ice layers pose major risks.

According to DNV, the “Ice Load Monitoring” project has led to the development of an ice load monitoring system that provides bridge personnel with real-time information about the actual ice loads on the ship’s hull and shows satellite information about the ice integrated into electronic navigation maps.

Based on the success of the Ice Load Monitoring project and a thorough understanding of the risks associated with Arctic operations, our conclusion is that technology will not be a showstopper for conducting safe, well-planned ship operations in Arctic waters,” Morten Mejlænder-Larsen, program director for Arctic shipping within DNV Maritime, said in a recent company press release.