Bilingual guide to offer ships tips for safe Arctic travel

By Sun Li and Hu Meidong in Xiamen ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-08 11:30:14

A Chinese/English version of the Arctic Voyage Guide (The Northeast Passage) will be published in July, aiming to enhance navigation safety for national and international vessels traveling in the Arctic.

Marking the country's first bilingual guide to the Arctic voyage, the compilation is a joint venture of the East China Sea Navigation Support Center, the Polar Research Institute of China, and the Marine Navigation Research Center at Jimei University in Xiamen, Fujian province.

The guide includes subjects, such as meteorological conditions and the navigation environment, safe routes and operation in ice zones.

Peng Guojun, an associate professor at Jimei University's Navigation College, who assisted in the editing of the guide, says the previously impassable Arctic shipping routes, which have been opened by global warming, are regarded as "golden seaways".

"The Arctic passage will save time, energy and costs, as it offers a great shortcut that saves about 35 percent of the traditional route from China to Europe, which went through Melaka, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea," Peng says.

Peng says that another benefit of the passage is that it enables ships to avoid pirate-infested waters in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

"The benefits attract more and more countries engaged in shipping trips across the North Pole, and such a guide is highly necessary and helpful," Peng says.

More than 20 marine navigation experts joined in the compilation, which began in October, roughly a month after the Chinese cargo ship Yongsheng completed its trek by way of the Arctic Northeast Passage from Taicang, Jiangsu province, to Rotterdam, Netherlands, last year.

It took 27 days for Yongsheng to finish its journey. The traditional route takes about 36 days.

Zheng Shanglong, a captain with Jimei University's Marine Navigation Research Center, says that in addition to learning experiences from the Yongsheng, the compilation also drew on successful experiences from Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, a Chinese icebreaker that conducted scientific expeditions in the Arctic.

"Given that the Arctic passage is a relatively new seaway and mariners from all over the world are still unfamiliar with it, the guide is intended to bring them a sense of ease and security," Zheng says.

Peng Guojun says because data will change over time, the guide is expected to be updated every year. The upcoming guide will be the first edition.

"Field research will be conducted after it is published, and documents and records provided by international vessels in the future will be studied to make adjustments," Peng says.

Xu Mingqiang, an official with the East China Sea Navigation Support Center, says the compilation went smoothly and they are finishing the first draft.

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