A Chinese Cargo Ship is Sailing Across the Melting Arctic to Europe

Posted: August 15, 2013  |  By: Lily Kuo [Quartz]

A Chinese cargo ship is traversing a modern-day passage that 16th century European explorers looking for a faster, safer route to Asia would have died to find.

The Yong Sheng, a 19,000-tonne (20,943 ton) ship operated by China’s state-owned Cosco Group, is sailing from Dalian in China’s northeast to Rotterdam via the Northeast Passage, a sea route above Russia that shaves off a little over a third of the time the journey normally takes.

By going through the Northeast Passage, or the Northern Sea Route, the Chinese ship avoids the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, areas where China has territorial disagreements with several Southeast Asian nations. The Northeast passage route also avoids passing through Indian Ocean where pirate attacks have been a problem. The traditional voyage from Asia to Europe through the Suez Canal takes about 48 days. Traveling by the Northern Sea Route, should take 35 days, according to Cosco.

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