Created: 3/23/1959

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Office of Research end Reports CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY




Thia . ecentn maritimealong the Soviet Northern Sea Route. Every yearbnormal weather conditions have disrupted shipping schedules, and operating officials have complained lhai the ice conditions in tha Arctic ware "the worst in history." Unfavorable conditions have prevailed in different lectors each year, however, often permitting theof one sector to offset the reverses of the other. These reverses have resulted simultaneously in certain reorganization, new approaches in shipping teehntquss. and Increased scientific research all aimed at improving) not abandoning, navigation In the Arctic.

figures presented ir. this report for8 season are provisional end-of-scason estimates and aro expected to be revised upward when complete data are available.

- Ml -



Summary and Ccnci js.or.s

trod action

ol the Northern Sea Route . .

It UaritiTrn

A. Merchant Ships Employed on the Northern

Oceangoing Steamships


J. Lighter* end Barges



Wintering on the Northern Sea Route



Appendix A. rief History of the Chlelthe Northern Sea

Appendix B. Statistical Table*

Appenom C. Gape la

Appendix D. Source References


Vessels Delivered or Scheduled to B*

Delivered to the USSR,

Crossing the Northern Sea Route. Vessel* Wintering or. the Northern Sea Route.




4. Total Cargo Loaded and Unloaded at Major Arctic


>. Types of Cargo Handled on the Northern Sea


i. Type of Merchant Vessels Operating on tha

Northern Sea Route.

7. Registry. Number, and Tonnage of Western

Vessels Operating on thc Northern Sea Route,

i* 25

9. Estimated Speeds and Conditions Encountered

in Crossing the Northern Sea Route

?. Soviet Naval Vessels Transferred from West

to East via the Northern Sea .


1. USSR; Major Locations on thc

Sea Route * Cover

Following Page

Figure 2. USSR: Icebound Arctic Areas (Map)

3- 1LSSJI: Western Arctic Oceangoing Lighters ,

Figure 4. USSR: Icebound Icebreakers, 7 and

Figure S. USSR: Geographical Limits of the Yakutsk

and Irkutsk Sovnarkhozes

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Summary and Conclusions

Thc Soviet Northern Sea Route is important to the USSR because it servesrimary supply line to economic and military installations in an area which Otherwise cannot be supplied adequately and because It Is the only excLusivelyrS,pviet.passage lor transferring naval and merchant vessels.from the Western USSR tp the .Soviet and Chinese Communistn, recent yaare the successful completion of both these functions has been complicated by unusually adverse weather conditions. Naval and merchant convoys have, turned back from their original destinations or have been forced to winter at various Arctic locations, and vilal cargoes for some areas were never delivered.

eries of measures has been undertaken to prevent recurrence of these mishaps. Of primary importance is the accelerated construction and acquisitionarge number of icebreakers and icebreaker-type ships lo Supplement and modernize an icebreaker fleet already considered the world's largest. In addition, Arctic hydro-graphic and meteorological research has been expanded to concentrate on long-range weather lorccasts which can be usedasis for an effective pr*seasonal distribution of snips and cargoes. Thisof ships and cargoes, practiced to.some extentas been primarily responsible for the annual increases in over-all tonnage turnover which have been accomplished in spite of idverse weather conditions.

Details available on the composition and flow of cargoes handledavigation season indicate that the Northern Sea Routearitime operation contributes little to the economy of the rest of the USSR. Most cargoes hauled by oceangoing ships are carried into or between Arctic ports, ewer ships carried more cargo than ever before, pointingore extensive and efficient use o: vessels In tne more favorable Eastern areas. Even so. the fact that so many ships are employed for the transportation of limited amounts o: cargo to relatively unproductive locations indicates not only the urgencyhich this operation must be completed but also tho importance attached to it by tne USSR. When the comparatively limited cargo turnover and the proportionately large number of Ships and gross tonnage required to carry it are considered in conjunction with thcresearch and icebreaker programs) which purportedly have been undertaken to guarantee the delivery of these cargoes, the Northern Sea Route navigation season would appear to be an expense to the USSR disproportionate to any calculable economic returns. It must be concluded, therefore) that the USSR attaches an Importance to the current and potential use of this route without regard forcosts and that Its principal function Is primarily strategic, not economic.

5 The estimates and conclusions In this report represent the best Judgment of this Olfice as



I. Introduction.

orthern Sea Rout*.transportation Lane usually identified as extending (or approximatelyiles from the Kara Sea in the West to the Bering Strait in the East, is the primary supply Une for economic installations and military bases in the Soviet Arctic which cannot be served adequately by other means oi transport. It la the shortest, and the only Soviet-controlled, route by which the USSR can transfer ships or cargoes to the Tar Cast. Shipping activities on this route can be carried out onlyonth navigation season which normally extends from mid-July to mid-October. These shipping operations are directed by officials of the Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route (Glavnoye upravlenlye Severnogo Morekogo Putthich la subordinate to the Ministry of the Merchant Fleet (MINMORFLOT).

The route Is divided Into two major operating sectors: the Western, which extends from tne Kara Gate to Prollv (Strait) VU'kitakogo, and the Eastern, which extends from Proliv VU'kitakogo to the Bering Strait. An area sometimes described as the Central Arctic extends from Proliv Vil'kttskogo to Proliv Longa (see lhe map,. Most ships usually operate within or between the Eastern and Western Sectors. ew ships do, however, traverse the entire route In either one or both directione.

aritime operations on the route have been hampered by increasingly severe ice conditions in Proliv Longa and Proliv VU'kitakogo, with the result chat during the past three shipping ssasons essential cargoes ware cot delivered to some locations, transfer schedules were disrupted, and large numbers of merchant and naval

vessels were forced lo winter In the Arctic for the first time since

A. Administration of tbe Northern Sea Route.

All maritime operations on tne Northern Sea Route areby GUSMP of the Ministry of the Merchant Fleet.'* 7 this directorate owned, in addition lo Arctic construction, supply, scientific, and aviation organisations, two steamshiphich controlled approximatelycebreakers,argo ships, and annumber of hydrographlc vessels. Other ships whichon the route are chartered from other Soviet and from Western steamship agencies for tha duration of the season.

Tne movements of ell ships, including the naval convoy, are controlled while on the route by two regional directors whose western and eastern headquarters for the season areat'Dikson and Pevek, respect'.vely. Additional control Is exercised by GUSMP authorities at Moscow, who fly to Arctic locations'if emergencies arise and require

* In*Ida bach cover.

** rief history of the organisation and functions of GUSMP, see Appendix A.

*** The Murmansk Arclic Steamship Agency was made directlyto the Ministry of lhe Merchant Fleet and trie Vladivostok Arctic Steamahtp Agency was merged with the Far Easl Steamship Agency.



prese- - Aerial ice reconnaissance and meteorologicalare the responsibilities of GUSMP organisations throughout tbe year.

After the reversals encountered during6 navigation season (the first year7 (hatwere forced to winter on theajor changes were effected within CUSUP for theof improving future shipping operations in the Arctic. The two stetmship companies, together with personnel snd some ships, were merged with other Soviet shipping organizations. The disposition of the icebreaker fleet and the hydrographtc ships is not knows.

Another change was tbe replacement of Admiral V. F. Burkhanov, head Of CEISMPy A. A.eputy minister of the Ministry of the Merchant Fleet. Burkhanov, however, remained as deputy to Afaneee'yev and' continued to direct operation*. Hismay haveace-saving device in retribution for6 navigation difficulties.

The shift in the allocation of responsibilities for Arcticoperations probably wasth the intention of narrowing Gl'SMP's responsibilities, thus freeing the directorate for tasksprimarily with tha exploration ond development of improved eea routes. Except for the loss of its steamship agencies, however, GUSMP has controlled operations as usual. The disposition of cargoes and ships appears to have been more efficiently handled, but bickering among port, steamship, and GUSMP officials continued to arise.

It is difficult to assess ths validity of accusations .which the Soviet press directs against GUSMP. This organisation, although nominally subordinate to the Ministry of tbe Merchant Fleet, appears to have maintained independent and autonomous authority In almost

or$aiu-top priority.

every phase of Arctic activity, even after having been relieved of of its :unctions. This supremacy undoubtedly has aggravated othe of.icials in the Ministry of the Merchant Fleet and othor Arctic cations whose ships and cargoes sometimes enjoy less than top

It Is lhe comments of these officials which are echoed in the Soviet press. There has been little evidence, however, that the dlrectora has suffered any real loss of prestige.

B. Weather Conditions.

aum -

Tbs Ice which is present almost the year around along the Northern Sea Route is not completely eliminated even during theer months. Of all tbe seas which border tbe Arctic mainland, only the Barents Sea comes under the influence of warm currents snd is open to navigation throughout the year. In the Kara Sea, where the Northern Sea Route Is considered to begin, navigation Is possible only from July to the end of September or to mid-October.

Farther eastward the Laptev and Easl Siberian Seas are open from July through October, and ths Chuckchi Sea and Bering Strait sometimes are navigable from mid-June to mid-November. Because of



the icebound areas in Proliv Vil'kitskogo and in Proliv Longa.oceangoing ships do not operate into any of the above-mentioned areas before mid-July or after September. When unfavorable weather conditions exist In these straits, convoy! of ships under icebreaker escort are sometimes hold upeeks beyond the normal Opening periods before they can move through them.

This situation exists because the permanent ice pack, which extends from the North Pole southward; comes closest to the Arctic mainland in these two strait areas (see the map, FigureIfwinds push the permanent ice pack toward the mainland, the straits become blocked even during Ihe summer months, and passage through them becomes impossible.

Weather conditions such as these brought about some or all of the unfavorable results during each of the navigation seasons6 as follows: onvoys of merchant and naval ships scheduled to cross the route were forced to turn back to homeand navalhich' were'unabie to rhaXe timely 'departure, from the route, were forced toceangoing cargo ship was crushed By1'fit* ice pkek and sank'with all cargo onost of the merchant ships which made complete crossings of the route were not scheduled to do so but transitedthey were unable to return to their home ports;any cargoes coming Onto the route from the Western or Far Eastern USSR were not delivered, and cargoes originating at Arctic ports were not transshipped to other Arctic portsceangoing ship, did not arrive In lime to complete schedules.

Although aerial ice reconnaissance and meteorological and hydrographic research are conductedast scale in the Soviet Arctic, the severity of the Ice conditions during theears was not fully anticipated. Even if it had been, however, it is doubtful that the conduct of shipping operations could have been appreciably improved. These adverse ice condition, nevertheless provided further incentive for increa.ed Soviet empha.f. on additional ice research and for the development of more flexible and economic shipping techniques on thcfurther developed during forthcoming navigation seasons, improved long-range weather forecasting will help considerably in arranging Ship schedules for full exploitation of the more favorable areas. This task is currently being developed by data obtained from aerial ice reconnaissance during the months of February through November, from the North Pole drift Stations, and from automatic hydrological and meteorological stations placed on the ice pack. On sr. experimental basis thc televising of ice conditions fromaircraft to Arctic ships already has been carried out, and photo-facsimile apparatus lor the reception of Ice data have been set up at Arctic Shore locations andimited number of icebreakers. The latter activities are expected to be conductedull scale in die near future.

Following p. 4.

- 4



Expeditions alio woro set up78 to investigate ihe-feasibility of UBlng the Northernecond route which goes around northern Novaya Zemlya.andevernaya Zemlya into the Laptev Sea. Explorations of this alternate rout* have been carried out to determine if it offers more favorable navigationthan exist along the mainland routes.

Another program for improving navigation in the Arctic is the expansion of, the icebreaker fleet which has beer.rogress Thc emphasis is on.faster ships which can mover at least, seml-independentlyn ice. These ships have been built by the Netherlands, Finland, and the USSR. (For additional information, sec

II. Mart time Activity.

A. Merchant Ships Employed on thc Northern Sea Route.

Merchant ships of all types arc* engaged in cargo-carrying operationsorthern Sea Route navigation season. Oceangoing steamships, tankers, barges, lighters, and tankers transport most of the cargo, but icebreakers, hydrographic.ships, and other types also are employed for this purpose if necessary. "In previous years, morehips of allye, utilisedavigation season. owever, ftc number, of saipnutitized.waslthough more toryiagc.yas Carried .than. Id any previous season. This reduction in the number oi.ehips was .probably .jAe result of improvements in weather forecasting which, enabled ship.concentrations to be made in those Eas^ejuich,were.,relatiyely.less affected by adverse iceThja.concentration.perrmtted,irwre-intensive shuttling among Arctic ports and more effective utilization of cargo capacities.


otoin ttiiiT .naotimol

route areof both-Soviet and Western rt&'frtwSb* SjWlMe-ithofraxe owaed by GUSMP or areector-andwnsport cargoes tomall rninority.of these merchant shipsof the routeeason, and6 most of these were unscheduled transitsby bad ice conditions.

pproximatelyivne-third of.the oceangoing steamships operating on.tae routeetern.vesaels.chartered by the USSR to transport timber exports .to. apa-Communist countries. Most of the Western vessels .used onoute during.tha entireere of Norwegian, Westnd British registry. Other



'* For the to.tal. number and types of merchant ShipsNorthern Sea Route. see Table24,


For additional information on ships crossing the route, see C, below.



registries included Cost* Rlcan, Swiss, Liborian. Panamanian, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Italian, Dutch, and Finnish.'*

2. Tankers.-

Until recent years, becauseack of large bulkdepots, large tankers did not ope rate* on"he Northern Seamost petroleum products had to'he'transported in barrels onships. The recent construction-of bulk-storage facilitiesmilitary organisations at various location* enabled largerand7aabeJf-class tanksrs (estimatedhe largest and newest of the Soviet maritime fleet, weredelivering petroleum cargoes at Arctic porta. Thesewere not undertaken, however, until two'cf. thistraveled during5 season frpm the Black Sea to thevia the Northers Seat^^Tlfsse'bhlpsemployed in Far Eastern snipping, but the Arctic voyagesbeen carried out to test the'^pability'Mf'thie'Mype of'larikofoperations in

tXtfM tpt. i. Lighters snd Barges.

- "The niOStj-.vrv-T- eeSea Route ports are'large* 'number's of lighter's an'dare employed onup toetrics'j' Theuse of this type of vessel ia tHe'ArCfitfeltabea largercarrying more specialised'cargoes, al'-hough their'useack of adequate port facilities for the'haodHng of-If- | "

In the Central Arcticeafr'goea out of the rlvsr dsltas to nearby coastal locations. Their more widespread use. however, is reflected in' tho Westerntraffic between Murmansk and ports of the Yenlsey River. Complete Information on the number and employment of lighters in this area la not available, but it is estimated that they handle al least the bulk of major cargoes (such as coa) and timber) movedWestern Arctic portsavigation season.

B. Icebreakers.

Under favorable conditions It is possible for cargo ships to proceed independently In the open seas of the Arctic. Movement through the difficult straits of Proliv Vil'kitskogo and Prolivowever, requires icebreaker assistance. In addition to escorting cargo ships serving points along the Northern Sea Route, themust provide safe paisage for merchant and naval convoys transiting this route. They also serve as provisioning ships for supplying fusl, water, and foodstuffs when th* schedules of naval and cargo vessels require thia service.

" abulation of 'he registry, number, and tonnage of Western vessels observed on the route during the, see Tableppendix.elow.ollowing p. 6.


USSR: Western Arctic Oceangoing8

USSR: Icebound78


CUSMP hasleastcebreaker-type ships-avigation season the majority of theie Icebreakers are baaed In the Wettern Arctic, but when merchant and naval convoys begin to move eastward, some icebreakers escort them into the Laptev and East Siberian Soaa and remain there until the season hae been completed. At the end ol7 aeaeon, icebreakers involved in Central Arctic operations were ordered to leave the Northern Sea Route via tho Far East because ice conditions in Proliv Vtl'kttskogo were not favorable to their returning weat. For unknownecently purchased from Finland, remained in the area until late October and subsequently were forced to winter at Tlksl (see Figure

The number of icebreakers used on the Northern Seatheas not increased significantly aboveused In previous years. For example.cebreakersinand The development of the Northernicebreaker float4 haa stressed qualitative rathergrowth. The acquisition of nine new ships since thatpermitted the older pre-Worldoviet icebreakers torepair without affecting Arctic operations. Three oficebreakers were purchased from Finland, the remainingtypes from the Netherlands. Two additionalare being built currently in Finland, and the USSR plansin Its own shipyards on prototypes of theatomic-powered Lenin, under con-

struction at Leningrad, ia scheduled to operate on the Northers Sea Route during9 season, and the USSRhat ita features will enhance Its capability for moving ships'through heavy Ice in future Northernoute seasons. The advantages of tbe atomic-powered icebreaker are its Increased horsepower, which will permit passage through deeper Ice. and Ita nuclear propulsion system, which willthe ship to rsmaln on ths route throughout the aeason without It Is doubtful, however, that one icebreaker, despite ita efficiency, can by Itself favorably influence navigation under conditions which prevailsd during the past three seasons.

C. Complete Crossings.

The majority of ahipe which operateavigation season do not cross the Northern Sea Route but remain within the Eastern or Western Sectors engages' in shuttle operations between different ports. Some ships which cross.unload and' load en routs and eventually depart in the opposite direction from which tbey started. Complete crossings sometimes are scheduled, but they are more often brought about by ice conditions which force them to depart the route in th* opposite

- Included are true icebreakers and icebreaker-cargo vessels. Th* USSR is believed toleet of approximatelyuch largeew of these are controlled by the Navy. The remainder, of unknown subordination, have not been noted In recent years but probably atill exist and are in use for local harbor work.Following p. 6.

ist of recently acquired Soviet icebreakers and those scheduled to be acquired, aee Table.elow.



man mm;

i| m

m! amII.




which cfobs the route without stopping arc believed to be carrying out voyages of an experimental or strategic nature. Examples of this are lhe annual naval convoys and. more specifically among thc merchant types,5 crossing of two Kazbek-class tankers which were fully loaded with Black Sea petroleum products destined for Far Eastern ports.

In evaluating past record crossings and the possibility for laster crossings in the future, several factors must be considered. Weather conditions are most important. Favorable ice and winds Can increase considerably normal rates of speed, whereas unfavorable conditions can delay the movements of ships indefinitely. Otherare thc speed capabilities of the ships involved and the actual Steaming timehip as opposed to thc total time consumed in crossing. Tableontains the earliest and latest opening and closing dates for various sectors of the route, the distances between selected ports on the route, the time required to traverse theseat average speed and fast speed,tatement of normal ice conditions within various parts of the route.

Thc fastest crossings of the route In recent years have been made by Lend-Lease Liberty ships wtrh top speeds ofnots; the Emel'yanays, ours) and theothnd the Sergeiays)* These probably were nonstop crossings.

The fastest and most efficient ships operating in the Arctic at the present time are the Icebreakers and icebreaker-cargo types which are known to be capable of speeds uphc atomic-powered Lenin, scheduled to take part in9 season, is expected to operate at aspeedofnots. All of these ships, apart from their capacity for operating into icebound areas, also can react more rapidly to unpredlcted ice conditions. Under optimumthey could transit the route from the Kara Gate to the Bering Strait (approximatelyiles) in less thanays andprovide thc most rapid escort for the fastest ships which may be scheduled to cross the route-

D. Naval.

Soviet dependency upon the Northern Sea Route, not onlyaritime lane for the movement of merchant ships but also for the through transit of naval vessels from the Western USSR to the Far East, is evidenced by the increasingly larger naval convoys which have crossed it in recent years. At least half of the major naval unite In

* Appendix B,elow. ** 0 the German raider Komet crossed the Northern Sea Route2 days under exceptionally favorable navigational conditions. The actual steaming time of the ship wasays.

*** innish-built Kapltan-class icebreakers are recorded as having speedsnots;utch-built Lena-class Icebreaker-cargoes,notsi andoviet-built ice-reinforced GES-claes,nots.




the Soviet Pacific Fleet have bee/transferred from the Western USSR via the Northern Sea Route, and transfers5 have tripled both cruiser and submarine forces tn the Pacific. The only transfers of naval vessels from West to Cut via another route in recent7 when two destroyersaval tanker moved from the Black Sea via the Sues Canal and Indian Ocean to the Fir: East. Because of ice conditions In Proliv Vil'kitskogo. there were no com-pletsd naval crossingsnd it is not known how(many cross-Inea ware

Northern Sea Route naval coovoys usually depart from White Sea naval bases inonvoy enter* the Kara Sea, it is placed under the ooerational control of GUSMP ehlooinB authorl-

While tn transit across the route the naval convoy usually la divided into three groups and Is under constant lc*br*akar escort. When the group* arrive at Provldeniya, they are earned over to th* operational control of the Soviet Pacific Fleet and escorted toand/or Petropavlovsk navalhere they are permanently assigned. Reliable identification of the total slse and composition-hich cross thc routeot possible.unless provided by

. sightings, which must be carried out while the complete convoy is en route from Provldeniya to Pe tropavlovsk. *"

On two occasions lc recent years, some elements of the annua! naval convoy* were unable to. complete transfera of tho route. 6 the entire convoy reached, (he Pevek area, .but tec conditions .In Proliv Longs were unusually difficult and onlynits reached the Pacific. At leastnits, known a* the Kama Convoy, ware wintered at Kreaty Kolymsk and did not compl'et*"crossings An unknenenof. jhips turned back and recroased the rout* to tho Western USSR.ce condition* in- the. Western. Ajctlc weo;thataval convoy did not depart eastward (rota White Sea bases until mid-August. eptember, ice forecast* prohibited any possibility of crossing to ths.Pacific, and ths convoy group* tucnad back westward from Proliv Virkitakoeo to their White Sea departure bases.

This la the

first instance1 that naval units constructed in shipyards of the Wssters USSR were not delivered to the Soviet Pacific Fleet via the Northern Sea Route.

"abulation of these slghtinglresultsee Tableppendixelow.

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ft*. Vessels Wintering on thc Northern Sea Route.

ere forced to winter on th* Arctic forI time tinea an "zr.expected deterioration of ice condition! in Proilv Vil'kjtskogo"7ncluding most of the Soviet icebreaker fleet, from reaching their final destinations.

c* conditions were so difficult in Proliv Long*args number of ship* crossing lhe roul* from West to .easl were forced lo return to the Western USSR after travelingfar as Pevek. Thess units included seven Polish cargo ships scheduled tor delivery to Communiat China. Soviet cargo ships en rout* lo eTar Eastern ports, and an unknown number of Soviet naval vessels being delivered to the Soviet Pacific Float!

Some ships scheduled to cross the route6 did not turn back and were wintered at Eastern Arctic ports. An unknown number of fishing vessels en rocte lo Kamchatka ports were placed inat Pevek. andessels of the naval convoy wintered at Kresty Kolymsk. These latter units, unless damaged: may have beenwintered for experimental purposes. In addition, one cargo ship and one tanker, operating in tbe Tar Eastern Sector, were unable tocargo operations in time and wintered at Mys Shrntdta.

7 the severity of ice conditions shifted theIn the Arctic to Proliv VU'kitakogo in the West. At the endseason, all ship* located west of this strait and formerlycross th* route wore either turned back to borne ports or placed Approximatelyishing vessels were wintered at1 tugighters at Igarka. Ships located east of Prolivdepart ths route via the Far East. One cargo ship

ne tanker war* unablewintered in Zaliv

Khatanga, Four Western Sector icebreakers, located in the eastern approaches to the strait, had sufficient time to depart to the Far East hut lor unknown reasons remained In th* area attempting to moveand subsequently were forced to winterlhei,

After8 season, which wasore severely affected by ice conditions In Prolivargo ship and an Icebreaker which had spent the previous winter In the Arctic and one hydrographic ship wintered at Tiksi. Details are not available, but this action may have been deliberate, as the ship* had Sufficient tlm* to depart to the Far East. (For identification of ships which have wintered or. lhe routeee Table 3.

" The wintering ships undcj* discussion in this section are classified as "forced winterings" because of climatic conditions which prevented them from completing their scheduled return to home ports. Some smallar hydrographic* well a* tugs and lighters owned by local Arctic port authorities, are wintered after every saason. . two US Land-Lease icebreakers were wintered on lhe Northern Sea Route. This is believed loeliberate action by th*void redelivery to the US,ollows on



Wintering on the Northern Sea


Kreetyama, Convoy




El'ban Voykov

Tanker Cargo vessel

Fishing vessels

Chador Kavhaz Kotuy

Yakan Nenets

Fishing vessels {lit)




Cargo vsessl Tanker

- steamship




Georgiy- steamship

It is not untieual for small ships, especially hydrographtc types, to winter in the Arctic. Thia permits thsm to begin their particular functions early theyear In localised areae where the Arctic seas are navigable before the straits open. The wintering of large oceangoing vessels, however; entails heavy maintenance .costs and also deprives steamship agencies of critically needed ships forIn other areas. At most Arctic locations, extra rations of fuel. food, clothing, and ship repair equipment are not available or sufficient for the demands of wintered ships and. consequently,n by air from supply bases of the Wsstern or Far Eastern USSR.

F. Cargo Dttt.

Even though the internal transshipment of larilyuplication of Individual




figures, the total, are believed toinimum of cargo activity.inimum, the figures can be used only to establish themagnitude of cargo handled to, from, and between various porta on the route. (For the amount of cargo loaded and unloaded at major Arctic porta for the, *eev

Although thc amount of cargo handled on the Northern Seaincrease each year, the compositiondoes not

vary considerably. (For total figures on the types o. cargo handled on tne routeeason and smemer.ii of their distribution, see TaolcJ Coal and timber are the major products. The turnover of tnese wo products may be considerably greater than theable 4. The bulk of coal and timber transported in :he Arctic is Shipped by barges and oceangoing lighters. Additional timber is floated dew- the Yenisey and Lena Rivers in log rafts,


to non-Communist

itod amount ia Shipped to Barenta Sea ports; but thc greater

stays On the route. Most of the

coalo remainse route, except for limited amounts shipped out of Nar'yan-Mar to Barents Sea ports.


There are no sources for petroleum in the Arctic; hence all prouuet. must be shipped by bulk in tankers or in barrels onip.. Local requirements for petroleum at most Arctic locations are be.ievcd to exceed the limited amounts known to be unloadeda navigation season. The major reasons for the low oercentases noted inre as follows:


1. Storage facilities for the reserve of petroleum prod-the Arctic are not believed to existarge scale, although tho constructionthem has increased in recent years. This lack of storage necessitates heavy barrel Shipments

I. Bulk and packaged petroleum products arecown the Yenisey and Lena Rivers after having been shipped on the Trans-Siberian Railroad .to river ports. The amounts-of petroleum hancod by river; shipping to Arctic location, are not known.

ollows onollows on p.




Tabic 4

Total Cargo Loaded and Unloaded at Major Arctic Port*

Metric Tons

6 */ V_

m lye


Am derma







Kraaty Kolymsk .



Footnote* (orollow on




Tabic 4


7 *'





pro vis tonal

Cargo figure*8 lor Kre.ty Kolymsk Include large totals unloaded at minor locations adjacent to Kreety Kolymsk st which little or no activity was recorded in previous yeart. Cargo unloaded at these minor locations was probably scheduled (or ultimate delivery to Kresty Kolymsk.

It is possible that the adverse effects of weather conditions on cent shipping operations msy bring about revised methods for moving rgoes into Arctic locations. This possibility already has been Indl-


Cargoes to be carried for organisations In the Irkutsk sovnarkhos will be doubled.and cargoes haul ad for ihe Yakutsk1 be increased 'aamount!

andesultC-percent reduction sn shipments from tne Far Cast which hadbeen transported overland from Magadan. 8/

These changes implyarge percentage of cargoestransported into the Central Arctic by oceangoing Steamships -ill be forwarded to Lena River port, on th* Trans-Siberian Railroad and will be further transshipped to points downstream by vessels of the Lena River Steamship Agancy. (For the area encompassed by ths Irkutsk and Yakutsk sovnarkhoaae, see the map.,

Following p. (Text continued on p.)


Table 6

Type* of Cargo Handled on tbe

ol Total

(Metric Tone) (Metric Tone) (Metric Ton*) Cargo Operation*

8 b/




of coal on th* Northern Sea Route (Vorkuta. Noril'sk, Sangar, and Kolymare transferred to other port* on the Northern Sea Route or on tho Barentsoal from Sakhalin and Chukotakalso brought into the Eaaiern Sector.

All known petroleum ahipmcntfl were Imparted from^Batumi, Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, and Vladivostok. This figure includes known bulk and packagedut most packaged fuel is- snipped on cargo ships and is not detected. The amount of fuelvia the Lena River to Arctic portss not known.


hipped or floated down the

iver stay* in the Eastern Sec-

tor. Timber shipped orthe Ycniscyestern Sector ports,ountries.

Kinjir.ote* Ii i I'Ablrfollow on p. 19

Table S

Types o( Cargo Handled on the Northern Sea Route , Continued)


Figures presented in this report on8 aeaaon are provisional end-of-scaaon estimates I

term standaronit oi measure in ihe timbwi figures (or timber cargo aa reported in thewere expressed in standards and cubic meters. In this report, those figures have been converted to metric tons at1 standard toetric tonsubic meter to6 metric ton.

listed in source. Individual figures add up. Deduct mis-entryons for "Other Easternand correct total

c. Details on ore and unidentified cargoes are not yet available6 and are tentatively included with "miscellaneous" cargoes.





Th* Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route (OlevnoyeSevernogo Morskogo puUUSMP) was established2scree of the Council of Peoples Commissars. Its status was thathief Directorate directly subordinate to the Council of Peopleswhich6 became the Council of Ministers. After the death of Stalin. GUSMP -as made subordinate to the Ministry of the Maritime and River Fleets. Whso these two organisations becameministriesUSMP became subordinate to the Ministry of the Maritime Fleet, which is its current status.

During ths courss of ita existence. GUSMP has controlled most activities in tho Soviet Arctic with the exception of Dai's troyeorganisation of this directorate was indicatedut it is not possible to form any definite conclusions of its extent on the basis of details which are currently available. CUSMP sail con-trolesvUUoa. construction, commardcadone. hrdrographic. meteorological, medical, and supply organizations, which,ew exceptions, are the only organiaationa of their kind that exist above the Arctic Circle.

Heads of the Chief Directorate of th* Northern Sea Route since its establishment2 were as follows:

Y.Arctic explorer

D.explorer. Rear Admiral

f th* Merchant


A.Gen*ral of Aviation

F- Admiral earn* aa above





z -















" -

? s








and Conditions Fncounlerod in Classing lhe. 5ea Roula

Average Speed Faal 3pead_

Arkhangelsk/Murmansk U> Kara Gale


1 1


Mileage (Hours) Knot* (Hours) Knott

to early July

Mid-October to mid-November

ti ion!

During these periods this are* le ice free,ips of all aiaca can Operate without icebreaker escort.


Dikson to Vil'kitskogo Vil'kllakogo lo Tiksi

Tikst to Ambarchik . to Pevek




July to late July

Mid-July u> raid-September

Mid-July to mid-September

Mid-July to mld-Scpt ember

Mid-July lo mid-Augyol

Early October to Into October

Late September to eatly October

Late September to early Oi

Mid September to early October

Mid-Sepicmbcrly Oclobe r

tbe Kara Gate ia opened, the route to Dikaon is usually ice free, and requires no icebreaker escort.

Navigation between Dikaon and Tikai is determined by the Ice and wind conditions in Proliv Vil'kllakogo. The are* is never entirely ice free and always requires Icebreaker escort.


Pevek is relatively Ice free during this per tod. butescort is sometimes required.

26 -






of So. Rout- operation, on which it la possible to formulate reasonable sstlmatea.

account only for .pecilic types of cargoes unloaded at particular port.

iven period, thefficial, no data on complete details.

Theritical gape in intelligence relai* primarily to exact detail, on port faculties and the total cargoes actually handed n on port facilities or. in their absence. On cargo handlingat Arctic ports Is moat oftenomplaint, thatmachinery was not available. arge number of lighter, and bargee ar* used for shlp-to-shore and oceangoing operations, but this does not preclude the possibility that some large-scale equipment may be available at major locations.

The cargo totals presented in this report are axpresaed in terms of cargo handled and do not represent the exact volume of cargo Some duplication of figures has necessarily been involvod because of internal transshipment of cargoes.

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Original document.

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