Ocean Shipping Routes

As you may know, commercial shipping routes through the Suez Canal and Red Sea have been disrupted, as ships passing through the Bab el-Mandeb strait have been threatened by pirates and missiles.

The alternative is to avoid the Suez Canal and instead sail around Africa. But that route is much longer, requires more fuel, and is less desirable.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

However, there is a third route, which is often overlooked. There is a path between Europe and Asia by going over the top of Russia through the Arctic Ocean. The problem with that route is there is often ice, which makes it impossible for many ships.

Solution: Nuclear powered icebreakers make it easier for cargo ships to pass from the Norwegian Sea to the Pacific. A record amount of cargo reportedly passed through this route in 2023.

From the link:
The Northern Sea Route (NSR) runs along the north coast of Russia connecting the European and far eastern ports of Russia over a distance of 5600 kilometres. By 21 December, Rosatom reported that 35 million tonnes had been transported, compared with the previous record of 34.1 million tonnes, which was set in 2021.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

35 million tonnes is still small compared to the amount of cargo that normally passes through the Suez Canal. However, as Russia builds more icebreakers, the northern route may become more popular in the future.

Also, even with the icebreakers clearing a path, the cargo ships may still need to be rated for travel through the Arctic. I don’t know about such things, but there are probably people here who do.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

About the latest class of nuclear powered icebreakers, if you are interested.

As of November 2022, three Project 22220 icebreakers (Arktika, Sibir and Ural) are in service, fourth (Yakutiya) has been launched, fifth (Chukotka) has been laid down at Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, and a sixth and seventh are on order.

  • Pete