The Northern Sea Route is a shipping corridor that passes along Russia’s northern coastline, through the waters of the Arctic Ocean (the Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Chukotsk and Bering Seas). It is the shortest maritime route between the ports of Europe and the Far East, and links the mouths of Siberian rivers into a single transports system. The length of the main Northern Sea Route, from Cape Zhelanie to Cape Dezhnev, is 2150 nautical miles.
PAO Sovcomflot has unique experience of operating ships in the Arctic. The company’s fleet specialises in shipping in challenging climatic conditions; the first passages along the Northern Sea Route by Sovcomflot vessels have gone down in the history of global shipping. In 2010 the tanker SCF Baltica became the first heavy-tonnage vessel to make the high-latitude journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. This passage demonstrated the possibility – and economic viability – of using the Northern Sea Route as a transport corridor for heavy-tonnage tankers. The SCF Baltica completed its passage along the Northern Sea Route on 6 September 2010. On 16 September 2011 the heavy-tonnage Suezmax tanker Vladimir Tikhonov completed an experimental high-latitude passage to ship gas condensate from Europe to Asia along the Northern Sea Route. The success of this tanker opened up a new high-latitude deep-sea route for commercial shipping, which passes north of the Novosibirsk Islands. It has been subsequently named “The Tikhonov Route”. On 5 December 2012 the LNG tanker Ob River (under the ownership of a foreign company and chartered by OAO Gazprom) completed the world’s first transit of LNG along the Northern Sea Route, with Mr Oleg Durasov, captain of the ice-reinforced tanker SCF Neva, on board in his capacity as an expert. On 28 October 2013 SCF Group’s tanker Viktor Bakaev made the first passage along the Northern Sea Route in a westerly direction by one of the company’s vessels, during the last navigation of 2013.
In 2014 PAO Sovcomflot continued its programme to open up high-latitude Arctic routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Nine transit passages were made along the Northern Sea Route, and a further three went from the Gulf of Ob to Murmansk. During the summer of 2014 the research vessel Vyacheslav Tikhonov conducted geophysical exploration in the Kara Sea.
At present 16 SCF Group vessels have transported over 600,000 tonnes of cargo from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean along high-latitude Arctic routes.