Northern Sea Route Shipping Statistics

A total of 18 ships transited the Northern Sea Route in 2015. The Northern Sea Route Information Office gathers statistics on these voyages and releases statistics every year. This site analyzes these ships and compares information from the previous years. The information provided below are based on these statistics for the years 2011-2015 and further information can be found here.

Northern-sea-route-definition new NORTHERN SEA ROUTE DEFINITION                                          

The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is a common name for several navigational routes in the Russian Federation exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – see map to the right (click the map for a bigger version). The area is vast and navigation via the route is carried out in compliance with Russian legislation.

The NSR Administration defines shipping within the areas between the Cape Dezhnev and the Kara Gate and Cape Zhelaniya (or the strait between the Cape and Franz Josef Land) as the Northern Sea Route. The shipping distance between Cape Zhelaniya and Cape Dezhnev is approximately 4000km (2380 nm) when navigating through the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea.

Example of navigation: If a ship is navigating through the NSR from Murmansk to China, it can either go through the Kara Gate, closer to the Russian shore, or through the strait between Cape Zhelaniya and Franz Josef Land. It will navigate through the Kara Sea and to the Laptev Sea, either north of the cluster of Islands or through the strait at the shore. When navigating to the East Siberian Sea it can either go north of the island cluster or near the shore before approaching Cape Dezhnev. Navigation depends on conditions of ice and many other factors. Strict regulation applies for navigation through the Northern Sea Route.

 NORTHERN SEA ROUTE TRANSITS 2011-2015                  
transits-through-northern-sea-routeThere were 207 transits through the NSR in the years 2011-2015. A transit through the NSR can be defined as a vessel navigating between Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, but its route can vary as shown in the map above. The NSR Information Office releases statistics about transits on its website. The graphs and other information, including statistics, provided herewithin are based on this information.

 NORTHERN SEA ROUTE 2015                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


The map above shows the 18 departures of the ships transiting the NSR in 2015 departed from 11 ports in 5 countries. The red and yellow markers show ports in cities that ship departed from, the red and yellow markers show destinations of these ships.

125 of the 207 transits were to the Russian Federation and 82 to other countries. The graph to the rights shows the destination country of the 82 transits to other countries. Most destinations are to China and South Korea.. The pie chart shows that majority of the destinations were in Asia i.e. 64%.

Types of cargo
The 18 ships in 2015 were carrying five types of cargo. One third of the ships did not carry any cargo. The graph below shows how the cargo was divided. Click the graph to enlarge.
  Flags of vessels
The 18 ships in 2015 were registered in seven countries. Ten of them were registered in the Russian Federation. Click the graph to enlarge.
 types of cargo 2015   flags-2015 

 NORTHERN SEA ROUTE 2011-2015                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
types-of-ships 2011-2015TYPE OF SHIP:
The graph on the rights shows ship types that transited in the five years between 2011 and 2015.

  • Tanker: A merchant vessel designed to transport liquids such as oil or gases.
  • Bulker: A ship which is intended primarily to carry dry cargo in bulk, including such types as ore carriers and combination carriers. For example, many of the ships carried iron-ore, a mineral substance used to produce iron.
  • General cargo: A ship with a multi-deck or single-deck hull designed primarily for the carriage of general cargo.
  • Container vessel: Cargo ships that carry containers.
  • Icebreaker: A special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters, and provide safe waterways for other boats and ships.
  • Government vessel: Can refer to numerous types of ships, including border control and military.
  • Research vessel: Can refer to numerous types of research vessels,shutterstock 77877709 including for seismic research and hydrographical research.
  • Tug/supply ship: Tug ships are specifically used to tow or escort ships and supply vessels are used to bring supplies to certain destinations or oil platforms.
  • Passenger ship: A ship which carries more than twelve passengers.
  • Reefer: A specialized ship to carry frozen food products, such as fish or meat.
  • Fishing vessel: Any vessel used commercially for catching fish, whales, seals, walrus or other living resources of the sea.
Note: In few instances types of ships have been categorized together, differently from the statistics from the NSR Administration. For example, different types of research vessels were grouped together. Numerous sub-categories of all ships exist but are not considered in the information from the NSR Information Office. The statistics are not consistent between years on names of ship types, for example they both talk about Refrigerator vessels and reefers, but here they are put together.

destination countriesDESTINATIONS
125 of the 207 transits were to the Russian Federation and 82 to other countries. The graph to the rights shows the destination country of the 82 transits to other countries. Most destinations are to China and South Korea. The pie chart shows that majority of the destinations were in Asia i.e. 64%. Click to enlarge.

flags-of-ships 2011-2015FLAGS OF SHIPS
The flag state of a vessel is the state under whose laws the vessel is registered or licensed. The flag state has the authority and responsibility to enforce regulations over vessels registered under its flag.

This includes several provisions for navigation, including international conventions such as UNCLOS, SOLAS and MARPOL.

IMO has listed the biggest fleets in the world (by gross tonnage) and as of 31st December 2010 the by far biggest fleet was registered in Panama with over 201 million tons. Liberia was next with 106 million tons and Marshall Islands next with 62 million.

Of the 207 transits, 125 were registered in the Russia Federation and 82 from 20 other countries.

Click to enlarge.

shutterstock 35154892



All statistics from the Northern Sea Route Information Office.