Nor, nor,east my hearties.
German ships blaze Arctic trail
Two German merchant ships are sailing from Asia to Europe via Russia's Arctic coast, having negotiated the once impassable North East Passage.
...the once impenetrable ice that prevented ships travelling along the northern Russian coast has been retreating rapidly because of global warming in recent decades.
The passage became passable without ice breakers in 2005.
This route is usually frozen but rising temperatures in the region caused by global warming have melted much of the ice allowing large ships to go through.
Wow! All that warming - but don't they even click on Wikipedia (let alone do some real research)
in 1878 that Finland-Swedish explorer Nordenskid made the first successful attempt to completely navigate the Northeast Passage from west to east during the Vega expedition. The ship's captain on this expedition was lieutenant Louis Palander of the Swedish Royal Navy. In 1915 a Russian expedition led by Boris Vilkitsky made the passage from east to west.
One year before Nordenskid's voyage, commercial exploitation of the route started with the so-called Kara expeditions, exporting Siberian agricultural produce via the Kara Sea. Of 122 convoys between 1877 and 1919 only 75 succeeded, transporting as little as 55 tons of cargo. From 1911 steamboats ran from Vladivostok to Kolyma (the Kolyma steamboats) once a year.
Nordenskid, Nansen, Amundsen, DeLong, Makarov and others ran expeditions mainly for scientific and cartographic reasons.
After the Russian Revolution Introduction of radio, steamboats and icebreakers made running the Northern Sea Route viable. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union was isolated from the western powers, which made it imperative to use this route. Besides being the shortest seaway between the West and the Far East of the USSR it was the only one which lay inside Soviet internal waters and did not impinge upon that which belonged to nearby opposing countries.
In 1932 a Soviet expedition led by Professor Otto Yulievich Schmidt was the first to sail all the way from Arkhangelsk to the Bering Strait in the same summer without wintering en route. After a couple more trial runs in 1933 and 1934, the Northern Sea Route was officially open and commercial exploitation began in 1935. Next year, part of the Baltic Fleet made the passage to the Pacific where an armed conflict with Japan was looming.
A special governing body Glavsevmorput', the Administration of the Northern Sea Route, was set up in 1932 and Otto Schmidt became its first director. It supervised navigation and built Arctic ports.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union commercial navigation in the Siberian Arctic went into decline in the 1990s. More or less regular shipping is to be found only from Murmansk to Dudinka in the west and between Vladivostok and Pevek in the east. Ports between Dudinka and Pevek see next to no shipping at all. Logashkino and Nordvik were abandoned and are now ghost towns.
So in fact it was regularly being used until the USSR broke up and chaos reigned, and now it is back working again...