Currently, the typification of ice conditions is standard to seven crucial areas of the NSR. Typically, the averaged value of ice conditions concerning cohesive, thin ice within a large area does not allow vessels to navigate through that area. Yet, new zones with lower ice-class requirements are expected to optimize the placement of icebreakers.

More zones will be added to the already existing seven areas. To this result, areas of rare ice and clear water are to be removed from larger zones typically defined by more ice. The current zoning stops vessels with weak ice fortifications from entering areas with favourable ice conditions and it also:

  • Requires increased time of cargo delivery by river-sea type vessels;
  • Entails reduced time for geological exploration on the NSR;
  • Violates the rhythm of operation of transport vessels in the seaports of the NSR with year-round navigation ( port of Sabetta).


Navigation through NSR has several requirements. In year 2017 the Northern Sea Route Administration issued 662 approvals to vessels passing along NSR. However, only 107 of them were foreign-flagged vessels. During the same year, approximately 10 million tons of cargo was delivered to and from Russian Arctic ports. That number is set to rise to 80 millions by 2024. Also, during the first 8 months of 2018 the shipping on the Northern Sea Route was increased by 81%.

The development of the shipping from and to Russian Arctic ports will have positive effects on the country's icebreaker fleet.