Giant Freighter Is First to Cross Northwest Passage

Danish bulk carrier makes milestone journey

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 27, 2013 4:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Sure, scientists are nearly positive that humans are heating up the planet, but there's an upside: more efficient shipping. For the first time, a major freighter has crossed the Northwest Passage in the Arctic, reports the Toronto Globe and Mail. The 735-foot Nordic Orion achieved the feat this week when it entered Baffin Bay. Doing so shaved 1,000 nautical miles off the usual route through the Panama Canal and saved the freighter's Danish operators about $80,000 worth of fuel, reports Reuters.

The fact that the ship burned less fuel than normal might be a small silver lining for environmentalists—until they see its cargo: coal, and lots of it, bound from British Columbia to Finland. And because the freighter didn't have to pass through the shallow Panama Canal, it was able to carry 25% more of the stuff, reports the National Post. The feat is expected to speed up international talks on shipping regulations for the passage, which until now had been mostly theoretical, notes the Globe and Mail.

File photo of a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker (in background) on its annual voyage through Canada's Arctic and the Northwest Passage.
File photo of a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker (in background) on its annual voyage through Canada's Arctic and the Northwest Passage.   (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jonathan Hayward)
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