Nuclear-powered icebreaker escorting a vessel through the Northern Sea Route. Photo: Rosatomflot

American-Chinese cooperation on Northern Sea Route

The American Bureau of Shipping and Chinese COSCO have agreed to cooperate on development of the Northern Sea Route as an international trading route.
February 03, 2016


The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) on Tuesday signed an agreement to cooperate on trans-Arctic voyages through the Northeast Passage, or the Northern Sea Route, as the shortcut between Europe and Asia is known as.

Using the Northern Sea Route for a voyage between the principal Asian and European ports reduces the distance by more than 6400 kilometers compared to the traditional route through the Suez Canal.

The agreement includes development of specialized ice-class vessel types able to navigate the Arctic sea route, under a cooperative initiative on Arctic Shipping Technology Development, ABS says in a press release.

“ABS is excited to work with COSCO to develop this pioneering trading route,” said Eric Kleess, president and coo of ABS Greater China Division, at the signing ceremony in Shanghai. “Combining ABS’ technical experience with COSCO’s successful use of the Northeast Passage with the first Chinese merchant ship, Yongsheng, navigating this route creates a solid foundation for jointly promoting the development of sustainable shipping in Arctic waters.” 

ABS has extensive experience in Arctic development and was an active participant in the IMO group tasked with establishing new requirements for Polar waters, the organization’s website reads. ABS has published the ABS Advisory Note on the Polar Code as an introductory knowledge book and general guidance to support shipowners and operators working in the increasingly popular commercial shipping routes through Arctic waters. 



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