COSCO Marks Arctic Breakbulk First

COSCO Marks Arctic Breakbulk First

Chinese shipping line COSCO’s heavy-lift and ice-class cargo ship Tian En has completed its first transit from China to Northwest Europe of breakbulk via the Northern Route.

The strategic shipping route via the Arctic has until recently been untraversable most of the year due to heavy sea-ice, but the arrival of the Tian En in the French port of Rouen now signals prospects for increased breakbulk shipments between the two continents.

The Tian En is an ice-class cargo ship of China's COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Corp.

The Tian En arrived in France laden with wind power equipment from Lianyungang, China. It had traveled via the Arctic Northeast Passage which extends through the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, and Chukchi Sea.

Discharge at Radicatel

Transport was arranged by the project cargo and heavy-lift division of French logistics group SeaLogis with cargo discharged at the Radicatel Terminal in the Port of Rouen.

Offload operations comprised a total of 63 heavy-lifts, carried out by RMS Manutention, a subsidiary of Katoen Natie.Cargo included 21 wind turbine blades, measuring up to 53 meters in length weighing and up to 70 tonnes.

Cosco’s global fleet numbers 1,114 vessels and its specialized carriers division operates more than a hundred vessels, including multipurpose and heavy-lift vessels, semi-submersible vessels, pure car carriers, logs carriers as well as asphalt carriers

Sea-ice decline opens economic opportunities

The Northern Sea Route from Asia to Europe is increasingly under consideration by breakbulk shipping lines as warmer sea temperatures are resulting in increased in ice melt across the arctic region.

"The reduction in summer sea-ice, perhaps the most striking sign of climate change, may also provide economic opportunities," said Nathanael Melia of the University of Reading.

With further temperature rises widely forecast for future years the route offers  a shorter alternative to current east-west trade routes, potentially resulting in some energy efficiency savings but at the same time raising environmental and safety concerns.

Photo: Tian En arrives in Rouen. Credit: Xinhuanet