First, let’s get our bearings. Unlike the Northwest passage, which traverses the icy north above Canada, the Northeast passage is an entirely different route, shown on the map in red.
From The Register: Also called the Northeast Passage or North Sea Passage, it’s a trade route that in summer months links the North European and Siberian ports to Asia, around the Arctic Circle. Orient-bound traffic heads east, then South via the Bering Strait. The route offers significant gains over the alternatives via Suez or the Cape, it’s shorter, quicker and cheaper. But until technological advances in the early 20th Century it was considered too hazardous for commercial operation.
The merchant ships MV Beluga Fraternity and MV Beluga Foresight arrived this week in Yamburg, Siberia. Ownership is Beluga Group Shipping Gmbh. From the company website: “During the passed days which led through the East Siberian Sea, the Sannikov Strait and the Vilkizki Strait as northernmost part the Beluga vessels were part of a little convoy behind the Russian Atomflot-ice breakers “50 let Pobedy” and “Rossia”.”.
“We are all very proud and delighted to be the first western shipping company which has successfully transited the legendary Northeast-Passage and delivered the sensitive cargo safely through this extraordinarily demanding sea area”, Niels Stolberg said, President and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, after the masters Captain Aleksander Antonov and Captain Valeriy Durov had notified that they had dropped anchor at their port of destination. “To transit the Northeast-Passage so well and professionally without incidents on the premiere trip is the result of our extremely thorough and accurate preparation as well as the outstanding team work between our attentive captains, our reliable meteorologists and our engaged crew”, said Stolberg.
One newspaper is making the most of this “first ever event”, according to a story in the UK Register:
The Times has liberally papered London underground carriages with a fascinating new ad campaign. One poster shows a ship navigating some treacherous icy waters, with the accompanying copy reading:
Climate change has allowed the Northeast Passage to be used as a commercial shipping route for the first time.
Impressive – if only it were true.
According to the ad copy:
To help you navigate the changing world we have more dedicated science and environment correspondents than the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail or Independent.
Only one problem: The Northeast Passage has been opened for commerce since 1934 – and never ‘closed’.
Over the years hundreds of thousands of freighters have passed through, and after Russia put Soviet-era politics aside it was extended to foreign commerce in the 1990s. As the Register reported two weeks ago.
So it appears that the Northeast passage story is just a case of bad journalism wrapped into an eco-scare story. For example, this is how The UK Newspaper, the Independent reported it under the category of “Climate Change”:
It’s a disaster all right, a disaster of bad journalism. I won’t mince words. It’s crap.
But we all know the MSM can’t get much right these days. My guess is that the MSM simply confused the difficult and almost always closed Northwest passage with the Northeast passage.
Bloggers once again were the leaders in discovering the real truth instead of paid journalists. Is it really so hard to use Google? For example the EU referendum had details and pictures of many previous transits of the Northeast passage. In this story, they show the history of this shipping lane.
Thanks to Andrew Orlowski of the register for his assistance with this story.
Readers, especially those in the UK, I’d like to make a suggestion. Let the Times know they screwed up, not only for the journalistic failure, but also for the touting of the failure as advertising. Letters to the editor, letters to the managements, and to the advertising office might be a good start. If nobody calls them on it, they’ll never learn.
There’s also the UK Advertising Standards Authority, that works to keep advertising legal, decent, honest and truthful. The ad being run by the Times is failing most of those points. Here’s where you can complain: