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Northeast Passage The shortest route between Europe and Asia

Northeast Passage today and tomorrow

  • 7–15 days total NEP transit time
  • Speed of 5–13 knots
  • 2–4 months of navigation in the open water

Until 2030, NEP cargo shipping volumes will be achieved by Russian consignors.

The main NEP ports: Murmansk, Sabetta, Dudinka, Khatanga, Tiksi, Pevek. Only ice-class vessels navigate the NEP.

5,770 nautical miles

Northeast Passage length from Murmansk to Yokohama

1991  

Northeast Passage opened for international navigation

In 2022, Russia will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Northeast Passage

The 1932 expedition led by Otto Shmidt became the first to complete a voyage through the Northeast Passage in a single season, aboard "A. Sibiryakov" icebreaker. On 28 July, the vessel left Arkhangelsk and headed east.

The crew had to replace propeller blades cut off by the ice, heave to, and hoist the sails when the ship lost the propeller entirely. Nevertheless, they achieved their destination after 2 months and 3 days: on 1 October, the crew entered the clean waters of the Bering Strait on a ship with makeshift sails.

In 2022, Russia will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Northeast Passage

Today, the Russian icebreaker fleet includes around 30 diesel-powered icebreakers, 4 nuclear-powered icebreakers, and the "Sevmorput" LASH carrier — the largest and currently the only nuclear-powered cargo ship.

Increasing levels of cargo traffic on the Northeast Passage and implementation of the Arctic hydrocarbon projects have prompted the construction of new icebreakers, primarily — nuclear-powered ones. The largest and the most powerful icebreaker in the world — "Arktika", named after its predecessor which was the first to reach the North Pole, is currently at the stage of sea trials.

In 2022, Russia will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Northeast Passage

A new stage in the exploration of the Northeast Passage started in times of peace, with the construction of nuclear-powered icebreakers. On 3 December 1959, the first Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker "Lenin" entered service.

The Northeast Passage transit speed increased significantly — depending on the ice conditions, a trip across the Arctic was reduced to approximately 18 days. The huge ship was leading convoys of vessels through the Arctic seas for 30 years. During the years in service, "Lenin" led a total of 3,470 vessels through the Northeast Passage. After being officially decommissioned, the icebreaker was converted into a museum ship based in Murmansk.

Northeast Passage

The Northeast Passage keeps its treasures under a layer of ice and snow
Northeast Passage cargo shipping volumes in 2019
31,5 mln t
Plans to grow cargo shipping volumes by 2024
80 mln t
Northeast Passage cargo shipping volumes to reach by 2035
160 mln t

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