Monday, July 19, 2010

BELUGA First through Northeast Passage

Simultaneously as climate scientists can see a near record low sea ice in the Arctic, two German merchant vessels are the first ever to make it through the formerly impenetrable Northeast Passage.

The German shipping company’s two vessels have reached their destination of Novy Port in the outlet of the Ob River after they sailed from Ulsan in South Korea in August. End of August and beginning of September is the time of the year with minimum ice along the northern coast of Siberia.
The last updated data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre shows that the averaged sea ice extent in the Arctic over August 2009 was 6,26 million square kilometres. That is 1,41 million square kilometres below the 1979 to 2000 average.
The two German commercial vessels to be the first to sail the route all the way through the Arctic from east to west are now delivering their cargo, 44 modules with single weight of 200 tons or more, onto barges in the Ob River reports HeavyLift. Then the two ships will sail around the Yamal Peninsula, cross the Barents Sea to Murmansk and head on to Rotterdam with its remaining 3,500 freight tons, writes HeavyLift.
The vessels, belonging to the Beluga Group, are of ice class and this year’s voyage comes after long time planning and a delayed permission to sail the route from Russian authorities. The voyages were first intended to take place last year as reported by BarentsObserver.
Following the climate changes and rapidly decreasing sea ice in the Arctic, there is a growing interest in Arctic Shipping. Two years ago, the first dry bulk cargo vessels made it through the Northwest Passage from Murmansk to Canada. The Russian vessel Kapitan Sviridov was the first to sail the western Arctic route, loaded with fertilizers from the Kola Peninsula, as reported by BarentsObserver.

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