ABS releases advisory for Northern Sea Route Navigation

ABS has released its Navigating the Northern Sea Route Advisory to support shipowners and operators intending to transit the increasingly popular commercial shipping routes through the Arctic seas.
The comprehensive Advisory, which was developed with assistance from Russia’s Central Marine Research and Design Institute, provides owners with the information they need to apply for permits and to identify the possible technical and operational risks that could arise when trading in some of the world’s most challenging commercial shipping environments.
The Advisory includes guidance on the Arctic environment, NSR Regulations, Winterisation strategies, the practice of navigating in ice-covered waters and information on NSR ports.
“The Northern Sea Route was virtually unnavigable by all but powerful icebreakers just a few short years ago,” said Todd Grove, ABS chief technology officer, noting that the Russian Federation’s recent moves to encourage international shipping through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the melting ice floes there have opened commercial shipping opportunities. 
“The NSR’s growing popularity has positive implications for transit times between Asia and Northern Europe,” Grove explains, “but the often unpredictable and unfamiliar shipping environment through the north also poses operational and technical challenges.
This Advisory was developed to provide the industry with some of the information it needs to navigate those challenges safely and efficiently, while also helping to minimize the impact on the environment.”
Trading through the NSR has the potential to reduce the typical transit times between Japan and Rotterdam by as much as 3,400 miles, or ten days, compared to the traditional route via the Suez Canal.
This reduction brings with it commensurate gains in overall vessel utilisation and reductions in bunker costs.
The NSR also will provide access to the growing energy and industrial activity in northern Russia, projects that already have led to greater tanker traffic in the area and provided the impetus for several recent orders of ice-class LNG carriers for future export trades.

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