Cargo ship sails through Northwest Passage and into history books -

Cargo ship sails through Northwest Passage and into history books


TORONTO – A Danish-owned coal-laden cargo ship has sailed through the Northwest Passage for the first time and into the history books as the second bulk carrier to navigate the Arctic route.

The Nordic Orion left Vancouver on Sept. 17 carrying 15,000 tons of coal. Ed Coll, CEO of Bulk Partners, an operational partner of ship-owner Nordic Bulk Carriers, said Friday that the freighter has passed Greenland. He said it is expected to dock in Finland next week after traversing waters once impenetrable with thick ice.

Interest in the Northwest Passage is on the rise as climate change is melting Arctic sea ice, creating open waterways. The melting ice could make it a regular Atlantic-Pacific shipping lane.

“Climate change is advancing more quickly to the point where the Northwest Passage has become a more viable shipping route, roughly 30 years earlier than most scientists estimated it would,” said Michael Byers, an international law expert at the University of British Columbia.

“I don’t celebrate the opening of the Northwest Passage to shipping because it does raise enormous challenges to Canada and for countries around the world in terms of dealing with climate change and its consequences.”

Coll said while the reality of melting ice is somewhat unsettling, it has also opened up a new frontier.

Canada has laid claim over ownership of the passage but it is joined by Russia, the U.S., and Denmark in drafting claims before a U.N. commission to extend their undersea boundaries into ice-blocked areas.

The Nordic Orion will not undermine Canada’s legal position that the Northwest Passage constitutes internal waters, since the ship has registered its voyage with the Canadian Coast Guard, which means it has received Canada’s permission.

It’s been more than four decades since the oil tanker SS Manhattan sailed through the Northwest Passage to test its feasibility as a trade route to deliver Alaskan oil to the U.S. East Coast, avoiding a long trip south to the Panama Canal. But its ice-hampered 1969 journey deterred others and the Americans opted for an oil pipeline to move Alaskan crude south.

The Nordic Orion has sailed through the west coast of Greenland — an area Coll described as the most dangerous, hampered with floating icebergs — but he said the vessel incurred only one choke point at Peel Sound in northern Canada in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, leaving it well on its way to having successfully navigated the passage.

The 738-foot (225-meter) long Nordic Orion, a Panamax-sized ship, has a strengthened bulk to cope with floating ice, as well as more steel and other features that make the heavy vessel suitable for the extreme Arctic conditions.

By sailing through the Northwest Passage, the Nordic Orion was able to trim about 1,000 nautical miles, which translates to four days, from its usual route through the Panama Canal. It was also able to carry about 25 per cent more coal, given how shallow the canal is. These benefits have resulted in savings of nearly $200,000 said Bulk Partners.

“But even if there wasn’t huge savings we would have done it just to do it, to pioneer it,” said Collpot.

Filed under:

Cargo ship sails through Northwest Passage and into history books

  1. It may be the last cargo ship for some time, if the ongoing Grand Solar Minimum continues to suppress temperature increases.

    • Give it a rest.

      • No increases for well over a decade, and no sign of an uptick in solar activity that would reverse that.

        Look deep into your heart: you know that CAGW is a false fear mongery.

        • The IPCC report is out today hon….and says the exact opposite.

          So take it down the hall to the anti-vaccine, anti-wifi, anti-flouride etc crowd.

          • That’s what’s wrong with the IPCC. It is politically driven to not only lie, but lie even more as the realities deviate from their previous lies.

          • There is nothing political about GW…there is just the ignorant in the Flat Earth Society.

          • Whoa, whoa, Emily, what’s this flat earth?.
            I thought it was The Flat Chest Society you were President of

          • The “itty bitty titty committee”?

    • It’s suppressing something, but it isn’t global temperatures.

      • Global atmospheric temperatures have not risen in well over a decade now, despite all the puffed up claims of the IPCC and others.

        The hypotheses that would have humans being the dominant forcing for temperature change are failing their most basic test.

        In Science (real Science of the Scientific Method variety) theories and hypotheses make predictions, which are tested against observations.

        The persistent failures of the AGW assumptions and theorizing mean that the underlying paradigm needs to be thoroughly re-examined and reworked.

        What is keeping it going must be politics, because the science support for CAGW is collapsing.

        • You must be one of those people that needs to recite a verbal ritual everyday for reassurance….like praying the rosary or something.

          However, magic spells don’t work against science.

        • just for fun list your favoured sources wiil you?

          • The UAH, Hadley Centre, NOAA, and NASA are my favourite sources.

            And also the IPCC for their model outputs to compare with the actual observations.

  2. Regardless of the climate rhetoric, this ship moved its load of coal through the Northwest Passage, and it didn’t take long. That’s real change.

    • Yes, a myth proven true in our lifetime….big change!

  3. Maybe now companies can send more products to Iqaluit and other northern communities more often and for cheaper freight charges than by air. At almost $10 for a loaf of bread I don’t know how the average person up north even survives to feed their family. Plus they could ship up more modular homes by ship, to help with their lack of good housing, so much need of everyday products up there at reasonable prices. I know when my cousin comes “down south” to visit he visits every bulk food store, warehouse etc and pays the extra shipping by air as it’s so much cheaper paying that than even buying the product in Iqaluit. For his wedding gifts I sent up 2 gallons each of shampoo and conditioner, which may sound like a cheesy gift, but a single regular bottle of shampoo is over $20, so it was like sending them $500!