Russian tanker completes Arctic passage without aid of icebreakers

The New York Times reports: A Russian-owned tanker, built to traverse the frozen waters of the Arctic, completed a journey in record time from Europe to Asia this month, auguring the future of shipping as global warming melts sea ice.

The Christophe de Margerie, a 984-foot tanker built specifically for the journey, became the first ship to complete the so-called Northern Sea Route without the aid of specialized ice-breaking vessels, the ship’s owner, Sovcomflot, said in a statement.

The journey was the culmination of a centuries-old navigational dream and of a decade-long plan by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose government has indicated it plans to take political and economic advantage of changes to the Arctic’s climate.

“This is a big event in the opening up of the Arctic,” Mr. Putin said of the tanker’s maiden voyage this year.

The ship, transporting liquefied natural gas, completed the trip from Norway to South Korea Thursday of last week, in just 19 days, 30 percent faster than the regular route through the Suez Canal, the company said. [Continue reading…]

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