For years, Korean companies have actively taken part in several unique shipping operations in the Russian Arctic and the Northern Sea Route. The first ever container shipment on the Northern Sea Route was made in 2013 when the 19,000 ton Chinese ship Yong Sheng made it transit from a Chinese port to Amsterdam. In July 2016, a historical shipment of two major industrial components was made from South Korea to the new Russian Arctic port Sabetta and from there further on the rivers Ob and Irtysh to the South Ural city of Tobolsk.
Russia has major ambitions for the Arctic shipping connection. But trans-shipments on the route has been sparse. In 2016, 19 ships made the transit from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea. With trial shipments expected to begin in 2020, Hyundai Merchant Marine, South Korea’s number one container carrier and the world’s 14th largest container line, is planning to use 2500-3500 TEU container ships on the route.
While trans-shipments between Europe and Asia remain limited, the Northern Sea Route in 2016 still saw a major hike. A total of 7,265 million tons of goods was shipped to and from ports along the route; an increase of 35 percent from 2015.