Chinese-Owned Containership Reaches Kaliningrad After NSR Passage

Chinese containership in Russia
NewNew Polar Bear on dock in Kaliningrad, Russia (Telegram)

Published Oct 6, 2023 2:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

In another demonstration of the efforts to expand shipping along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, the Chinese-owned containership NewNew Polar Bear (15,950 dwt) became the first to reach the Russian port in Kaliningrad after a six-week passage. The governor of the Kaliningrad region Anton Alikhanov hailed the achievement on his Telegram account.

The vessel was acquired earlier this year by a new Chinese shipping company, Hainan Yangpu NewNew Shipping Co., and ushered in the route sailing from St. Petersburg at the beginning of July. She started the return trip from China in late August, reaching Kaliningrad on Tuesday and spending three days on dock. The ship registered in Hong Kong is 554 feet long with a capacity of 1,600 TEU.

She is part of the effort to expand trade between China and Russia and grow traffic along the Northern Sea Route. President Vladimir Putin has ordered the authorities overseeing the route to boost annual shipments to 80 million metric tons in 2024.



“Transport companies plan to make this logistics product permanent. It turns out cheaper and faster than through the Suez Canal,” writes Alikhanov touting the party line on his Telegram account.

As ice has declined along the NSR, there has been growing attention to Russia’s efforts at sending non-ice reinforced vessels along the route recently. The first non-ice class Aframax oil tanker, the Leonid Loza, departed early in September from the terminal near Murmansk heading for Ningbo, China. According to the permit issued by the Russian authorities, the tanker which is registered in Liberia was being permitted to sail unescorted in ice-free water but was still required to have an escort in areas where it encountered ice.

Non-ice class bulkers have also been permitted to make transits along the NSR. In September, energy giant Gazprom sent its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments to China also using the NSR.

The NewNew Polar Bear departed from Shanghai on its westward voyage. It first went to Arkhangelsk, and then to Baltiysk, in the Kaliningrad province. It will now proceed to St. Petersburg as its final port. Her owners have said that they expect to maintain the service through the sailing season which traditionally runs between July and November.

Another Chinese shipping company, Safetrans Shipping, has said that it would be maintaining weekly service along the NSR after acquiring containerships. At the end of August, they sent the largest containership on the route, the SFT Turkey, a 50,000 dwt vessel with a capacity for 4,250 TEU.

Rosatom has said its target is to reach 36 million tonnes of cargo transported along the NSR this year. Russia has also projected that year-round service would begin on portions of the NSR starting in 2024.