As climate change progresses, the amount of arctic sea ice continues to decline, and open water areas expand rapidly during the summer season in the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Thus, opening the NSR could offer great possibilities for the shipping industry and shipbuilders. The NSR is navigated by merchant vessels equipped with specially strengthened hulls, which sail between Europe and Asia during the summer and autumn periods. To ensure ship safety on the NSR, a risk assessment should be conducted before the initial stages of voyage planning. The Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) has been developing a voyage planning system called the KRISO Arctic Safe Routing System (KARS). The main purpose of KARS is to ensure safe navigation, which includes optimal route planning and increasing ship energy efficiency in the NSR. In this study, the main functions of KARS were introduced and validation tests were conducted onboard the Korean icebreaker, ARAON in the East Siberian Sea. The full scale ice trial results were summarized and the possibility of applying KARS will be discussed.


The NSR stretches from the Barents Sea to the Bering Strait. It covers approximately 5,600 km of Russia's arctic shore, and this route is almost 40% shorter than that of the Suez Canal. Since 2009, the NSR has been officially open for international shipping, and The Ob River liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, chartered by the Gazprom Group, successfully completed in December 2012 the world's first LNG supply via the NSR. Due to rapid increases in the production of oil and natural gas and their transportation along the NSR, ships have had to maintain safe navigation and efficient voyage planning. From the ship owners' point of view, risk assessments should be conducted before the initial stages of voyage planning to ensure ship safety on the NSR.

Generally, the transit voyage via the NSR has many uncertainties, such as ice conditions, the reliability of shipping schedules, and the structural safety of ships' hulls; thus, voyages that operate in the NSR have to minimize cost, fuel, and time to maximize the safety of these vessels. In recent years, summer operations on the NSR regions have been profitable due to melting sea ice, but vessels have also been exposed to pack ice conditions. Therefore, captains and vessel crews must always pay attention to possible impact scenarios between the ship and the ice floes during voyages.

Many types of research, including studies of Arctic voyage planning, are currently underway. These studies focus mainly on the economic feasibility of Arctic shipping. Kotovirta et al. (2009) developed an ice resistance model and optimization routes for ship navigation through the entrance to the Baltic Sea. Riska and Valkonen (2014) developed a probabilistic model for ship performance calculations that can be used to assess the economic feasibility of ship designs and transport concepts. Pastusiak (2016) developed a method for route planning of vessels in the ice-covered areas on the NSR. This study took into account the procedures for the processing of information for routing passages of the vessels on the NSR.

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