Putin reviews new short sea shipping plans to avoid Suez Canal

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a meeting with the country’s shipbuilding executives to review plans to prioritize short sea shipping in hopes of bypassing the Suez Canal.

“We are focusing on the South-North corridor, mainly moving cargo through the Caspian Sea,” said Alexei Rakhmanov, CEO of United Shipbuilding, Russia’s largest shipbuilding company. “This year we are starting to design a container ship that will ply the Caspian Sea bound for Helsinki. In this way, we will open routes that are not dependent on foreign countries.”

According to the Kremlin, if smaller ships capable of short-distance shipments are built, it is possible to load in northern Iran or western China and bring the cargo to Helsinki via the Russian port of Olya on the Caspian Sea. They believe this route will take only seven to eight days to reach Helsinki from Olya at an average speed of 10 knots.

“We are zealously working on many new products,” Rakhmanov said. “In the case of civil shipbuilding, I mean the opening of basically new segments, including small vessels, which few companies have approached systematically, and solutions for Russian cities.”

“The main issue is the cost of this shipment. We are working on it jointly with shipping companies.” Putin was informed that the northbound route will include navigation on the Volga River, then the Volga-Baltic waterway and the Moscow Canal to St. Petersburg. Ships could reach as far as the White Sea, but the stopover would be a bit smaller there, with smaller cargoes.

In the United States, the Maritime Administration under Trump prioritized short sea shipping as a solution to congested roads and poor infrastructure in the current era of megaships. President Biden, however, has not included much in the way of short sea shipping or port subsidies that could solve America’s infrastructure problems and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Nor has Biden appointed a head of the U.S. Maritime Administration, the federal agency charged with solving the problem. In Europe, the use of short sea shipping vessels is already commonplace, but 50% of the short sea fleet is more than 20 years old, and Toepfer Transport suggests that 24% of the fleet will reach the end of its economic life in the next five to ten years.

Russia’s other plan to bypass Suez

This is not Russia’s first plan to bypass the Suez Canal. In March, President Vladimir Putin unveiled a plan to take advantage of melting polar ice due to global warming by investing in shipping and Arctic development. This plan to divert cargo through the Arctic will also require shipbuilding efforts and, this week, Russia announced plans to build new icebreakers powered by liquefied natural gas. Russia already has numerous heavy icebreakers (including heavy nuclear-powered ships), while the United States does not have a single heavy icebreaker that does not routinely catch fire and break down.

Source gCaptain

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