Arctic Yearbook 2012
Humpert and Raspotnik
(World Shipping Council, 2010), most of them container ships follow a set route calling at a number
of ports to load and unload cargo, which consequently supply the concerned countries’
Profitability can only be assured with large-scale shipping based on stable and predictable (year-
round) operations (Ragner, 2008). The global maritime industry operates on just-in-time cargo
deliveries. The ability to schedule journeys a long time in advance and to guarantee uninterrupted
service is considered key for container ship operators. As a result, of the four kinds of Arctic voyages
undertaken in the Arctic Ocean, trans-Arctic shipping may face the most significant hurdle to
become part of the global trade patterns (Lasserre & Pelletier, 2011).
Det Norske Veritas (2010) concluded that navigation across the Arctic Ocean would require
significant improvements with regard to charting and monitoring. The coastal states’ equipment for
satellite communication and emergency response as well as “observational networks and forecasts
for weather, icing, waves, and sea ice” were considered insufficient (Det Norske Veritas, 2010: 17).
Yet due to magnetic and solar phenomena, electronic communication challenges above 70°-72°
North, e.g. limited bandwidth and degraded Global Positioning System (GPS), will remain a major
challenge for communication, navigation and search and rescue along the TSR (Emmerson & Lahn,
2012). Additionally the lack of infrastructure and support services for Arctic shipping operations
amplifies safety considerations. The larger distance to relevant safe ports (ports of refuge) and the
potential difficulties of reaching them due to, e.g. drifting icebergs, exacerbate navigational challenges
along the TSR.
Improvements in this regard will be an important step in addressing safety and infrastructure
concerns and will enhance the economic predictability of Arctic shipping in general and along the
TSR in particular.
Additionally, the scarce availability of research and monitoring data also remains a
significant obstacle for sufficient economic risk analysis.
A number of Arctic shipping routes, especially the NSR, are also subject to significant draft and
beam restrictions. Ships along the NSR must pass through a number of narrow and shallow straits in
the Kara and Laptev Sea. The Yugorskiy Shar Strait at the southernmost entrance from the Barents
to the Kara Sea follows a channel, 21 nautical miles (nm) long and 12-30 meters deep. The Kara
Strait south of Novaya Zemlya has a minimum depth of 21 meters and is 18 nm long. Along the
eastern section of the NSR ships must navigate either the Dmitry Laptev Strait or the Sannikov Strait
to pass through the New Siberian Islands and travel from the Laptev to the East Siberian Seas. The
eastern approach of the Laptev Strait has a depth of less than 10 meters, restricting the draft of ships