Towards cargo record on Northern Sea Route

The cargo record on the Northern Sea Route will probably be broken during the next few weeks. (Photo:

After a slow start of the sailing season this summer, transport along the northern Sea Route has gained speed the last couple of weeks and the previous cargo record will probably soon be broken.


In course of the two first months of this years’ sailing period only nine vessels had used the Northern Sea Route (NSR) for transportation of cargo between Europe and Asia, as BarentsObserver reported. 

During the last two weeks, things have really gained speed, and the number of vessels sailing the NSR has now reached a total of 22 – 13 from the west to the east and nine in the opposite direction. 

A total of 749.706 tons of different cargo has been transported – approaching last year’s record of 820.789 tons, a press release from the operator of Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers Rosatomflot reads.

The sailing season will probably last another two months. In 2011 the last vessel reached the Pacific Ocean on November 18, marking the longest sailing season on the Northern Sea Route ever. 

Arctic ice extent record low
Although vessels sailing through the NSR have reported that the ice situation in the East Siberian Sea is more difficult than last year, the overall picture of the ice situation looks either promising or alarming, depending on your point of view. Since the August 27 report that the Arctic ice had shrunk to 4.10 million square kilometers, thus breaking the previous 2007 minimum of 4.17 million square kilometers, the ice melting has continued. According to the latest data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Arctic sea ice extent is now below 4.00 million square kilometers.

Various vessels, various cargo
Here is a summary from Rosatomflot of most of the vessels using the NSR the last couple of weeks:

The freezer ship “Skyfrost”, owned by Greek Laskaridis Shipping transported 8265 tons of frozen fish from Asia to Russia. The 2189 nautical miles long journey from Cape Dezhnev on the Chukchi Peninsula to Mys Zhelaniya on Novaya Zamlya took 180,5 hours or 7,5 days, the ship owner says to BarentsObserver.

The tanker “STI Harmony” left for China with 61.401 tons of gas condensate for Novatek, while the tanker “SCF Amur” sailed to Singapore with 44.133 tons of fuel oil. These vessels spent 8,2 days on the route.

The tanker “Marinor” is currently on the NSR transporting 60.992 tons of gas condensate to South Korea for Novatek. The vessel is being escorted by the nuclear-powered icebreaker “Rossiya”, which is on its way to pick up scientists and equipment from Russia’s floating research station “North Pole 39”.

Other vessels sailing the NSR at the moment are the tug “Tumcha”, the pipe-laying barge “Nebula”, and the tanker “Svyatoy Pavel”, which carries 9255 tons of diesel.