Simulation of NSR Navigation Based on Year Round and Seasonal Operation Scenarios

(By K. Kamesaki, S. Kishi, Y. Yamauchi ; INSROP Working Paper No. 164 – 1999)


It is quite natural that those who are attempting to utilize the NSR commercially will firstly concern about the cost benefit and associated risks. The INSROP Simulation Project has performed ship transit simulations in order to answer these concerns, incorporating advanced ship design and historical ice data. In order to conduct such simulations, multidisciplinary knowledge is necessary. Thus, The Simulation project has been divided into nine work packages (WPs) and WP8 has taken the responsibility of integrating the results of the other WPs.

WP1 (Working Paper 108-1998) selected the routes both for regional and transit simulations, and gathered information of associated infrastructures. A southern NSR and a northern NSR transit route between Yokohama and Hamburg were selected for 9m and 12.5m draft ships respectively. The eastern route between Tiksi and Yokohama, and the western route between Dikson and Hamburg were selected as the regional routes. WP2 (Working Paper 121-1998) prepared an enormous quantity of historical ice data covering more than forty years and 18 items on a monthly average basis. WP3 (INSROP Working Papers 139-1999 & 140-1999) presented the current and future cargo flow data. WP4 (Working Paper 120-1998) performed the preliminary design and ice tank tests for the two icebreaking cargo ships used for the simulation. They featured container/bulk carriers and eight-month independent navigation capability in ice. In addition to the WP4 results, a 50,000DWT icebreaking bulk carrier was also used to examine the effect of balance between icebreaking and open water capability. WP5 (Working Paper 107-1998) gathered SA-15 performance data in ice and structural damages to calibrate the simulation data. WP6 (Working Paper 155-1999) developed the ship velocity calculation code that is essential to determine the simulated ship velocities in ice conditions provided by WP2. WP7 (Working Paper 128-1999) reviewed the selected route from a legal viewpoint and performed an environmental impact assessment. WP8 imported some of other seven projects’ results and incorporated them into the simulation works.

Cost simulations through the NSR have also been attempted in the past. Wergeland (1992) showed the feasibility results. Schwarz (1995) also presented the feasibility results for container ships considering future technical advances. Mulherin et al. (1996) employed Monte Carlo technique to describe ice conditions along the route.

In this simulation, efforts are paid to connect WP6’s ship velocity simulation with the ice conditions presented by WP2. The concept for the ice index originally introduced by the Canadian Arctic Ship Pollution Prevention Regulations as ice numerals is modified to express the ice conditions quantitatively as a solution, then the probabilistic relations between the ice conditions and ship velocity are developed using the code provided by WP6. This method considerably shortens the simulation time with keeping rational relation between the ice condition and transit time. WP8 simulation simply captured ice conditions as the only slowing factor.

Chapter 2 summarizes the results utilized in this simulation. Chapter 3 describes the computer code developed for this simulation and inherent assumptions adopted in addition to Chapter 2. Chapter 4 summarizes the results. The simulations were performed twice. The first time, the simulation method named Monthly Voyage Simulation (MVS) was used, representing the required cost for each month. MVS is not representing the cost simulation conventionally adopted by the shipping industries, however it is the most preferable method to look at the general trends for the variations for transit times by season and sea area, and icebreaker escort times etc. The second simulation was performed using the Annual Serial Voyage Simulation (ASVS) method. ASVS aims to estimate the number of voyages per year or specified period and evaluates freight cost per voyage as $/ton. ASVS is widely used for the shipping industries to judge fusibilities in terms of cost and profit.

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first simulation incorporating both advanced ship technology and detailed historical ice data for NSR. The following conclusions and recommendations are drawn from the study.

1. The monthly voyage simulation presented the tendency for the cost components, icebreaker tariffs, escort days for icebreaker, routes and transit days etc. The capital costs have the most significant effects among the cost parameters. Thus, 50,000DWT bulk carrier (50BC) has advantages to the other two powerful icebreaking cargo ships if the icebreaker tariff assumed here is proper. The escort days of 50BC are slightly longer than those of 40BC, but the difference is negligible under the adopted escort scenario. The transit days in the N-route is slightly longer than the Southerly route, but its difference will be negligible, and the escort days in the N-route is one day longer than the S-route when comparing 25BC and 40BC. The N-route can be promising for larger capacity ships developed in the future.

2. The simulation for the regional routes shows that the western route is far easier than the eastern route. The escort days for the western routes will be less than three days and near-independent navigation will be possible using 25BC. This fact is coincident with the experience gained in the past.

3. The icebreaker tariff is the most significant parameter among the variable cost items. Currently the tariff up to 20,000 GT is proposed. The winter tariff is slightly cheaper than the summer tariff even though the winter navigation needs more escort days as this simulation shows. In this simulation, tariffs ranging from 4.89 to 5.45 $/GT was adopted. The tariff rate slightly less than 5.0 $/ton seems to make the NSR economically feasible under the assumptions adopted in this simulation. The tariff rate shall be further discussed based on this kind of simulation, and specified in detail by season and icebreaking capability together with the standby time and standby location of icebreakers.

4. The insurance cost in the NSR is eventually assumed as twice as expensive as the Suez route. The accidental or hull damage data has been gathered through INSROP project, although none of the reports has presented the quantitative risks per voyage. This makes it difficult to give a rational insurance cost. The total sinking rate seems to be lower, although no back up data are available. The accidental data shall be open to enable quantitative assessment.

5. The simulation shows that the proper route switching from the NSR to the Suez route considerably improve the required cost. To realize it, the advanced satellite technology has to be developed to predict the ice conditions for one or two month before a ship enters into the NSR. The procedures for the permission to the NSR and the contract between a shipping company and a cargo owner should also meet this scenario.

6. The ice data provided from the AARI will be a good benchmark data to discuss the rationale for the tariff and other technical assessments. The data will be stowed in the INSROP GIS CD and will be distributed to users.

7. The concept for the ice index is modified from the ice numerals originally introduced in the CASPPR to link the data and the ship speed algorithms. The ice index enables to predict the ice speed against the given ice conditions with the reasonable accuracy. The cumulative ice index is given as summing up the ice index multiplying the segment lengths. That will be a good index to quantitatively express the difficulty of navigation in the NSR. The difficulty of navigation is conventionally expressed in “Heavy, medium, light” in Russian literature. It is recommended to express the navigation difficulty using the ice index.

8. The icebreaker escort for handy size bulk ships is assumed to be feasible in this simulation, however there is no technical background for it. The further study is needed.


    K. Kamesaki, S. Kishi, Y. Yamauchi, 1999, Simulation of NSR Navigation Based on Year Round and Seasonal Operation Scenarios, INSROP.©