Large areas of sea ice still remain in the Northwestern Passage along the Canadian coast. However, based on analysis of satellite images by the Global Ice Center (GIC), ice experts at Japan-based Weathernews predict this should melt away by early September, thus opening the passage for vessels.
The Northern Sea Route bordering Russia is now open to commercial shipping traffic as of August 21st, 2014. This is two weeks earlier than last season when lower than average temperatures resulted inslow pace of melting in the Arctic Ocean. Last summer, the northeastern passage opened at the beginning of September.
Sovcomflot Group’s (SCF) Anichkov Bridge was the first large capacity tanker to transit the Northern Sea Route this year. The 47,000 – dwt MR vessel completed her voyage along the route on August 18, 2014, the Russian shipping company said.
The Northern Sea Route has been in use by vessels escorted by Russian icebreakers since late June. However, enough ice has melted north of the New Siberian Islands (Novosibirsk) to allow vessels to pass through the region with minimal risk of collision from now until early October, according to Weathernews’ Global Ice Center.
Use of the NSR by the shipping industry as cost-saving alternative route continues to grow in recent years.