Yongsheng sailing to the north

Yongsheng freighter Cosco has made history. The ship took in August 2013 the short route from China to Europe to the north. The route went through the Arctic Ocean, called by some the Northeast Passage. What Willem Barentzs envisioned the Yongsheng over four hundred years later succeeded.

Nova Zembla

Willem Barendsz

The Dutchman Willem Barentzs wanted to do it, but he did not succeed. The explorer was searching for the passage to the north, a shorter trade route from the west to the east and thus a more economical route, without the storms of the Cape and without the pirates in the Indian Ocean. In 1596 he got stuck near Nova Zembla, and what happened next to him described, sung and filmed. Barendsz and his men wintered in Retaining Huys, the wooden shelter that built the navigator on the island. What it in the sixteenth century failed the freighter Yongsheng Cosco in 2013 succeeded.

China Ocean Shipping Company

Cosco conducted the first commercial transport through the Arctic Ocean off. The passage from China to Europe therefore does not come through Africa and that saves a lot of mileage. The Yongsheng feed from Dalian in China to the Maasvlakte with container cranes. Normally he would have sailed through the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal. The shipowner is careful with that route because of the unrest in Egypt, next to the Suez Canal, and the pirates off the Somali coast. Shipowners are therefore looking forward to an alternative route and Cosco has found him. The time savings of the route to the north is considerable. The ship takes two weeks shorter to reach Europe. That and security are the main reasons for the owner to sail along the top. It also saves a lot of fuel and the emission of the greenhouse gas CO2 is significantly less.

Arctic route

The northern route is called the Northeast Passage or Northern Sea Route. The passage originated from climate change melts more ice in the Arctic Ocean in the summer months. The ship sailed under its own steam, without icebreakers. Cosco, the new route using structural. The Arctic Ocean route from Dalian to Maasvlakte is 11 500 kilometers. The sailing time is 33 days. The route through the Suez Canal is 23 000 kilometers. For now Cosco is the only company that will use the route. Maersk takes the route not in the schedule. Their ships are too big for the North Pole Route. Moreover, the passage is not the whole year. In winter the sea is frozen over. A disadvantage of the northern route is also the absence of ports en route and that means the move can not be loaded or unloaded.


The freighter was built in 2002 in Romania under the direction of then Damen Hoogezand. It is a ijsversterkt vessel specially designed to transport heavy loads. The ship was built along with a sister ship commissioned by Carisbrooke Shipping in England, who sold the ship in 2007 at the Cosco.