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Beluga Vessels Transit Northeast Passage

Two multipurpose heavy lift project carriers, the MV Beluga Fraternity and MV Beluga Foresight, successfully transited the Northeast Passage—Russia’s Arctic-facing northern shore from South Korea to Siberia. Due to global warming, the passage is nearly ice free for a few short weeks in the summer. These Beluga vessels are the first non-Russian commercial vessels to transit the entire passage.

Northeast-passage
Northeast Passage (also called the Northern Sea Route) (red) with the major stops for the Beluga vessels and alternative route through Suez Canal (blue). Click to enlarge.

The vessels had cast off from Ulsan, South Korea, to enter the Northern Sea Route via the inspection point at Vladivostok and dropped anchor at Novyy Port / Yamburg in the delta of river Ob, where they discharged 44 cargo modules with single weights of 200 tons onto barges by the on-board crane gear. This cargo will be transported further to Surgut. Both vessels then will sail via Murmansk to Central Europe to deliver the remaining 3,500 freight tons of construction parts packed in wooden boxes each to Rotterdam.

During the passage through the East Siberian Sea, the Sannikov Strait and the Vilkizki Strait—the northernmost part of the passage—the Beluga vessels followed in a little convoy behind Russian Atomflot-ice breakers “50 let Pobedy” and “Rossia”.

Small ice bergs, ice fields and ice blocks were safely passed nautically. After the successful premiere, Beluga Shipping announced further project journeys through the Northeast-Passage for 2010—then probably with the new Super Heavy Lift vessels of the Beluga P-class already, which will be launched as from autumn this year onwards.

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