Arctic sea transportation has drawn a lot of attention in the recent years. The possibility of using a shorter route between Europe and Asia interests many actors in the shipping industry. Benefits from the shorter route may, at first, seem attractive. However, there might be factors affecting the feasibility of the route that are not obvious at first. The estimated transit speed along the Arctic route is not necessarily reached due to ice and other prevailing conditions. Simplified methods can underestimate the actual transit time, so the use of advanced methods is advisable. A thorough assessment of ship performance along the selected route can reveal factors that affect the feasibility of trans-Arctic shipping.

This paper presents how the ship transit along an Arctic route can be simulated and how the ship performance can be assessed based on the simulation results. In this paper comparative results of ship performance in different ice conditions are shown and the benefits and challenges of the ship ice transit simulations are discussed. The effect of the input ice conditions to the ship performance estimates and how the ice information from various sources can be used for the simulations are discussed.

Ship performance in the Arctic transit is tested using a probabilistic model called COSSARC for ship performance simulation in ice and open water. The tool can be used for assessing the economic feasibility of ship designs and transport concepts. One of the main benefits of the ship ice transit simulations compared to the simpler methods is that ice ridges are described in the realization of ice conditions statistically and the ship performance in ridges is modeled. A ship might get stuck in ridges and might be forced to wait for assistance from an icebreaker, or a double acting ship might travel slower than anticipated through ridge fields. This increases the transit time significantly, which is not necessarily revealed by simpler methods. The main outcome from the ship ice transit simulations described in this paper, is a more realistic estimate of transit time for a given route. This can be used as input for economic or other assessments. It is possible to estimate the probability of getting stuck in ice ridges from the ship ice transit simulation results, and thus the need for icebreaker assistance can be assessed. The probabilistic simulation of ship performance can be done in the design phase of the ship to assess various design concepts or while selecting what kind of ship or fleet of ships is the most suitable for the given transport task.

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