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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
The Arctic route
11/8/2021 7:48:00 PM
Found this article from the “Barents Observer”:
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Given that lengthier voyage (+3,200nm) over the Suez route, and the trans-shipment decision at Vladivostok, I thought the Russian choice was more than just curious. Thoughts, anyone?

One thing that struck me is that simply by making use of the Russian polar route on a routine basis Russia is establishing precedents. I get that they’re using the Russian route, but they’re still making a case for a stronger year-round presence in the region, with expansions in weather research stations, more numerous atomic icebreakers, and perhaps a more numerous, more flexible fleet of atomic-powered cargo vessels.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 142
Joined: 2010
The Arctic route
11/8/2021 8:49:48 PM
Brian,

What route would be shorter from China, Japan, and South Korea to Europe over Russia or through Canadian waters in the north?

Gary
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6748
Joined: 2006
The Arctic route
11/9/2021 9:28:46 AM
Brrrrrrrrrr!!
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
The Arctic route
11/9/2021 8:14:58 PM
Quote:
What route would be shorter from China, Japan, and South Korea to Europe over Russia or through Canadian waters in the north?

Gary, good question. I don’t have a good answer.

The reactor that is the focus of this particular shipment was, IIUC, being shipped from St Petersburg to Bangladesh, via Murmansk and Vladivostok. Shipment to Japan, or North or South Korea, would be hundreds – maybe even a thousand – of nms shorter. And by polar configuration, if Murmansk can remain ice-free, it might be an attractive destination. IIRC, Murmansk has increasingly effective rail links to the south. Someone like Kai would have to address how well-connected Trondheim and/or Narvik are by comparison.

Three points, which I raise but cannot answer:
1. At present, I believe Russian efforts to keep a north-east passage open are more energetic and more effective than any effort being made by Canada, the US or Denmark. Just thinking insurance purposes alone, right now the Russian route is more attractive. Distance, I assume, is sometimes less important than risk factors.
2. Because of basic government control mechanisms, it is still possible for Russia to operate at least some transportation by the NE passage at a loss. I don’t believe this is possible in the west, at least at present.
2 IIUC, there are huge efforts by both Russia and China to generate land links from Asia to the west. In fact, there was I believe a recent article (again, in the “Barents Observer”) concerning a container being shipped from somewhere in Asia to Murmansk by rail and road, and then being loaded aboard ship to ship to the US east coast.

You are noting trade from Asian to European markets, fo course. What I would wonder is whether the Suez route is still the most viable from much of East Asia to Europe, assuming landing cargo in Italy or France.

As a child, I had a globe (all that British Empire pink or red was a boost at the time!) that has long since been lost. Maybe it’s time once more to get a globe which allows distances such as we’re talking to be calculated.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G

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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
The Arctic route
11/9/2021 8:45:53 PM


Note the Transpolar sea route takes ships straight over the pole which no country is supposed to own. It also takes ships away from the ports of call along the Northern Sea Route along the Russian shore. It is my understanding that the "ownership" of the waters off the Russian shore are not in dispute. They are Russian up to 200 nautical miles and so Russia will be able to charge fees for services and will regulate traffic along this route.

The Northwest Passage runs through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago but sovereignty over these waters is in dispute. Canada claims the water as internal Canadian waters and if so travel through these waters which pass by islands occupied by Inuit who also hunt in these water, would be under Canadian jurisdiction and control.

The US has disputed Canada's claim and says that the waters are an international strait and that all shipping may pass without notification of Canadian authorities.

As to which route from Europe is shorter, the Northern Sea Route or the Northwest Passage, it appears that the Northwest Passage is shorter but the bigger question is which route is more easily navigated and for how much of the year. I believe that the Northern Sea Route will be ice free before the Northwest Passage. One prediction is that the Northern Sea Route will be ice free for two months of the year by 2030, increasing to three months by 2040. Siberian Rivers deposit water into the sea that makes the Russian waters more temperate.

The Northwest Passage will take a lot longer to clear and the absence of deep sea ports probably means that the Russian route will see expanded use before the Canadian route.

However, the Northern Sea route is actually marginally shorter than the NW passage dependent upon which European port is the start or end point. The further south that those Euro ports are or if they are in the Med, the less attractive the northern routes become.

Quote:
One of the noteworthy strengths of both routes is the shorter distance between Asian and European ports. For example, a cargo ship going from Shanghai to Rotterdam would have to travel 10,500 nautical miles using the Suez Canal route; via the Northern Sea Route, on the other hand, it would only be 8,500 miles or 8,700 on the route through northern Canada. This reduction in the distances would translate into shorter voyage time, taking up to a week less.


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Cheers,

George

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