First container ship on Northern Sea Route

Chinese shipping major Cosco has majord plans for shipments along the NSR.

The “Yong Sheng” is the first ever container-transporting vessel sailing transit along the Northern Sea Route


When arriving in Amsterdam, presumably on September 11, the 19,000-ton vessel “Yong Sheng” will get its place in the history books as the first container-transporting vessel which made it transit along the Arctic shortcut between Asia and Europe. The vessel, operated by China’s state-controlled Cosco Group, left a Chinese port on August 8 and is currently on its way towards the eastern part of the Russian Arctic.

According to Cosco, Asian goods could in few years be transported through the northern passage in significant volumes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, Cosco, is ranked the sixth largest container ship operator worldwide. The company, which is owned by the Chinese government, is also the biggest dry bulk shipping operator, as well as liner carrier, in China.

In addition to the ongoing NSR shipping operation, Cosco has got permission from the Russian Northern Sea Route Administration for another two sailings along the route. The company will be allowed to conduct independent sailing along the route in modest ice conditions, as well as to hire icebreaker assistance, newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.

As previously reported, another of Cosco`s vessels, the “Hong Xing”, is currently also shipping along the NSR.

In 2012 the icebreaker “Xue Long” (Snow Dragon) became the first ever Chinese vessel to sail all along the Northern Sea Route into the Barents Sea. This trip has “greatly encouraged” Chinese shipping companies, said Huigen Yang, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China at a conference about the Arctic in Oslo in March. 

The melting Arctic ice is quickly expanding the sailing season on the Arctic route. Russia`s biggest shipping company, the Sovcomflot, is already offering clients shipping along the route for up to six months of the year.