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First ‘cargo mission’ through North Pole ... Could it be threat to Suez Canal?

Published: Updated:

In a major development for maritime shipping, Maersk is sending a brand new boxship to the Northern Sea Route in the next few days in a landmark voyage for the container shipping industry.

Five years ago, Maersk’s former chief executive told the Financial Times that the Arctic would in two decades at least become a commercial option for shipping.

However, it seems that something has changed after the melting of snow there.

Maersk will launch this week the first container ship on the Russian-bound Arctic route to become a real alternative to the Suez Canal in Egypt.

The Vienta Maersk, a 3,600-container ice-pack, belonging to the Danish group, will leave the Vladivostok port for St. Petersburg, which will arrive in late September, the Financial Times has said.

The North Sea route runs from the Bering Strait between Russia and the United States along the far north of Russia to its exit near Norway. A potential long-term competitor to the Suez Canal for Asia-Europe trade when the Arctic ice melts, according to splash247.

For Maersk, this trip will be an exploratory one, looking to pick up scientific data to see wehther the route can be more fully utilized as an alternative to the traditional Asia-Europe route via the Suez Canal.

A spokesperson for Maersk Line told Splash247.com: “It is important to underline that this is a trial to explore unknown route for container shipping and to collect scientific date, currently we do not see the Northern Sea Route as an alternative to our usual routes. We plan new services according to our customer’s demand, trading patterns and population centers.”

He further noted that: “We do follow the development of the Northern Sea Route . Today, the passage is only feasible for around three months a year which may change with time. We also must consider that ice-classed vessels are required to make the passage, which means an additional investment.”

It is worth mentioning that the Vienta Maersk is the fourth of seven sister vessels delivered on July, 11, 2018. This will be the ship maiden voyage towards Northern Europe where it will be trading along with its already delivered sister ship deployed in Seago Line’s network.

Maersk’s new Baltic feeders are among the world’s largest ice-class vessels designed specifically to operate in cold waters, down to -25 degrees C, where ice-class is required to offer year-round operations. They have a nominal capacity of 3,596 teu and are equipped with 600 reefer plugs.