Ja, man darf stolz sein: deutsche Schiffe haben die Nordostpassage für den Handel geöffnet! / The Independent: „A triumph for man, a disaster for mankind“

El Periódico, Barecelona: bahnbrechende Entwicklung / N24 begleitete die ungewöhnliche Fahrt der deutschen Schiffe publizistisch / Alte Weltkarte des Gebietes um den Nordpol (Grafik: landkartenindex.blogspot.com) / Diese gefährliche Fahrt versuchte der Mensch immer wieder (Courtesy libweb5.princeton.edu) / Weser Kurier: die Zeitung aus dem Norden zeigte die Feier an Bord / The Independent, Großbritanien, sieht eine dramatische, epochala Wended



דניאל דגן - Die Meldung aus Bremen wurde auch in Moskau, Barcelona und andernorts übernommen: Deutschen Schiffe ist es gelungen, die Nordostpassage für den maritimen Handel frei zu machen. Das hat der Mensch seit vielen Generationen versucht - bisher erfolglos. Der Weg von Nordeuropa nach Ostasien wird nun um mehr als 5000 Kilometer verkürzt. Sicherlich eine Folge der besorgniserregenden Erwärmung der Erde und des Klimawandels. Dennoch eine große Errungenschaft für die Schifffahrt und für den internationalen Handel.



 

Nordostpassage: der gefährliche Weg von Europa nach Asien

Lesen Sie bitte hier den Bericht von El Periódico (Spanisch):

El deshielo del Ártico acorta la ruta marina entre Asia y Europa

Further below a contribution from The Independent (English)

The elusive goal of seafaring  nations since the beginnings of waterborne trade...

DMITRI POLIKÁRPOV MOSCÚ

ANTONIO MADRIDEJOS BARCELONA

Dos mercantes alemanes procedentes de Corea del Sur, el MV Beluga Fraternity y el MV Beluga Foresight, atracaron la semana pasada en el puerto ruso de Yamburg, descargaron y luego siguieron su travesía hacia Rotterdam (Holanda). Llevaban equipos para refinerías de petróleo de la ciudad de Surgut, en Siberia. Podría parecer una operación rutinaria, pero no lo era: se trataba de la primera ocasión en la que una empresa naviera occidental transitaba con éxito y sin ayuda de rompehielos por el paso del Noreste. La ruta de navegación que enlaza el Pacífico con el Atlántico a través del Ártico ruso, inspiración de épicos navegantes, estaba abierta. No habían desaparecido los icebergs, pero sí se podía circular con una cierta holgura desde el mar de Kara hasta el mar de Laptev, el tramo más angosto, como relataron fuentes de la empresa Beluga Shipping. El verano no ha sido particularmente cálido en la zona, pero las fotos satelitales confirman que solo había hielo en el 40% de la superficie marina. Según los científicos rusos, la nueva ruta todavía está lejos de competir con la tradicional vía marítima de Asia a Europa que pasa a través del golfo de Adén y del canal del Suez. Actualmente, la ruta marítima del Norte o ruta del mar del Norte, como se la denomina en Rusia, permite navegar sin escolta de rompehielos solo seis semanas al año, entre agosto y septiembre. Sin embargo, si el cambio climático mantiene su ritmo actual, no se descarta que pronto se convierta durante cuatro meses en una ruta atractiva, exenta de problemas políticos y piratas de alta mar.

PERMISOS Y BUROCRACIA / En cualquier caso, el viaje de los mercantes alemanes no estuvo exento de dificultades. Las autoridades rusas les hicieron esperar un mes en Vladivostok mientras los servicios especiales consideraban si se podía o no permitir el paso de barcos extraños por la ruta marítima. Para conseguir el permiso, el propietario de Beluga Shipping, Niels Stolberg, tuvo que desplazarse a Moscú, donde gestionó el asunto «al máximo nivel político», según informó la agencia rusa RIA Novosti. El viaje del Fraternity y el Foresight abre nuevas perspectivas para el suministro de mercancías a una extensa región de Siberia con enormes yacimientos de hidrocarburos. Las autoridades rusas, que vigilaban con recelo ese viaje pionero, ofrecieron a Stolberg una escolta de rompehielos, pero no se necesitó su ayuda por el dramático decrecimiento del hielo marino en el Ártico. El paso del Noreste fue recorrido por primera vez en 1878 por Adolf Erik Nordenskjöld, navegante suecofinés, pero su explotación comercial no empezó hasta el desarrollo de la radio y los rompehielos. A partir de 1935, cargueros soviéticos lo transitaron con una cierta frecuencia para el transporte de materias primas locales, como madera y metales, pero siempre con barcos de apoyo para abrirse paso. A partir de los años 90 cayó un poco en el olvido no por un cambio en la dinámica del hielo, sino simplemente por el elevado coste económico de las operaciones y el colapso de la URSS. Seguía habiendo un cierto tráfico en ambos extremos de la ruta, pero los buques no se atrevían a hacer el camino completo.

SUBSUELO / A pesar de sus riquezas, la zona subártica de Rusia, comunicada con el resto del continente a través de la ruta del Norte, ha tenido tradicionalmente problemas para abastecerse de materiales y mercancías a causa de la escasa financiación estatal. Para las petroleras rusas concentradas en Siberia, la llegada de los mercantes alemanes significa una rotura del bloqueo. Según Stolberg, su empresa ya tiene seis contratos firmados con compañías locales para llevar mercancías al puerto de Yamburg. Es decir, el deshielo abre nuevas comunicaciones y, al mismo tiempo, facilita la explotación de una región –terrestre y marítima– prácticamente virgen.

Article in The Independent, London:



A triumph for man, a disaster for mankind

Two ships are finishing the first commercial navigation of the fabled North-east Passage. It is an epic moment – but also a vivid sign of climate change in the Arctic

By Tony Paterson

It has been one of the elusive goals of seafaring nations almost since the beginnings of waterborne trade, but for nearly 500 years the idea has been dismissed as an impossible dream. Now, as a result of global warming, the dream is about to come true.



Within days, a journey that represents both a huge commercial boon and a dark milestone on the route to environmental catastrophe is expected to be completed for the first time. No commercial vessel has ever successfully travelled the North-east Passage, a fabled Arctic Sea route that links the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific far more directly than the usual southerly cargo route. Explorers throughout history have tried, and failed; some have died in the attempt.

But early next week the German-owned vessels, Beluga Fraternity and Beluga Foresight, are scheduled to dock in the Dutch port of Rotterdam. It is the culmination of a two-month voyage from South Korea across the perilous waters of the Arctic, where an unprecedented ice-melt has at last made the previously impassable course a viable possibility. The new route could transform Russia's economic fortunes. Throughout history, the country's search for a warm-water port that would provide sea routes open year-round has dominated the geopolitics of the region. But the economic advantages are balanced by the disastrous environmental news that the transit represents.

"This is further proof that climate change is happening now," said Melanie Duchin, Arctic Expedition leader on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, who added that the development put greater pressure on world leaders to agree a major emissions cut at their Copenhagen meeting in December. "This is not a cause for celebration but cause for immediate action," she said.

The 12,000-tonne vessels' summer journey through the Northeast Passage was carried out with 3,500 tonnes of construction materials and parts for a Siberian power station on board. Once completed, the voyage will have shortened the traditional commercial sea route from the Far East to Europe – via the Suez Canal – by more than 4,000 nautical miles.

Russian maritime officials are now hoping that the feat will result in an "Arctic Rush" with the northern sea route becoming a viable summer competitor to the Suez and Panama canals. They have offered to cut ice-breaker fees in the North-east Passage to encourage major shipping companies to start using it.

Nils Stolberg, the President of the Bremen-based Beluga group which organised the commercial voyage insisted yesterday that ships' transit was not an experiment but the first step towards opening the North-east Passage to shipping world wide. He said his company already had new contracts to ship goods along the route from Asia to Siberia next summer.

"We are all very proud and delighted to be the first Western shipping company to have successfully transited the legendary North-east Passage and delivered a sensitive cargo safely through this extraordinarily demanding sea area," he said. He also estimated that the path had saved $92,000 (£55,000) worth of fuel for each ship.

Despite global warming, the Northeast Passage is still seriously hampered by hundred-mile long swathes of shifting pack ice that extend southwards from the North Pole even in summer. The islands off the north coast of Siberia also contain glaciers which cast icebergs into the warming waters of the passage with increasing frequency.

In 1983 a Russian ship was crushed by pack ice it encountered in the passage in the middle of summer. However, the Russian Transport Ministry which operates a fleet of six nuclear powered-ice-breakers to assist Russian and other coastal commercial ships, says that in recent summers the route has rarely been completely impassable. "The ice conditions were far more severe 20 years ago," a spokesman said.

The voyage of the two Beluga vessels was certainly no picnic. Although not thoroughbred ice-breakers themselves, both ships were designed to cope with ice-strewn waters and were accompanied by at least one Russian nuclear ice-breaker during the whole of the trip. The two ships encountered snow, fog, ice floes, and treacherous icebergs which showed only about one meter of their huge underwater volume on the sea's surface.

The most challenging stretch of the voyage came at its northernmost point, the Vilkizi Strait on the tip of Siberia. Half of the sea's surface was covered with pack ice and the captains of both vessels had to call Russian ice pilots on board to shepherd them through. Vlarey Durov, captain of the Beluga Foresight spoke of the stress he experienced from having to keep a constant lookout for ice and the time spent waiting for the seas to clear. But he insisted: "It is an economically and ecologically beneficial shortcut between Europe and Asia... On such voyages the advantage of fewer miles can outweigh the delays in waiting for clear water."

Finding a North-east Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific was the goal of mariners and governments in 16th-century Europe because the route would have shortened the voyage to the newly discovered spice islands of the East Indies by some 2,000 miles – the equivalent of a year's sailing.

However, most expeditions ended in disaster. The first attempt by the British navigator Richard Chancellor took place in 1553 but was brought to an abrupt halt in the winter of the same year when his ships became trapped in the ice. Chancellor abandoned ship and marched across the ice to Moscow where he was entertained at the court of Ivan the Terrible.

His fellow explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby stayed with his crew aboard ship and was discovered frozen to death two years later.

Another attempt in 1597 by the Dutch explorer William Barents ended with his ship being trapped and crushed in the ice. Barents and his crew were forced to spend the winter in a makeshift driftwood hut living on polar bear meat. Barents, after whom the polar Barents sea is named, did not survive either.

If the current voyage ends successfully, such maritime disasters may become a thing of the past. But a separate environmental disaster may be only beginning to unfold.

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Asien Reise von Obama: in Tokio Begeisterung, in Hiroshima Enttäuschung / Obama’s Asian itinerary: Great Tokyo Speech & Dreaded Hiroshima Invitation / אובמה באסיה: טוקיו, סינגפור, בייג’ינג, סאול – אבל לא הירושימה

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