A voyage planning tool for ships sailing between Europe and Asia via the Arctic
Journal article, 2020

The Arctic is rapidly transforming into a navigable ocean because of global warming reducing the extent of sea ice. As a consequence, a large percentage of the sailing distance between Europe and Asia could be saved by alternatively sailing through the Arctic rather than the traditional route via the Suez Canal. However, taking Arctic routes is fraught with risks and additional costs due to sea ice. The major purpose of this study is to develop a voyage planning tool to improve the safety and fuel efficiency of commercial ships sailing between Europe and Asia via the Arctic, which is achieved by voyage optimization through frequently updated meteorological, oceanographic and ice forecasting. This tool is characterized by route planning for the entire voyage, inclusive of the Arctic passage and the open water legs in Asia and Europe. A single-objective optimization for minimizing fuel consumption under various environmental and operational conditions is established. The resistance model accounts for both ice thickness and ice concentration of unconsolidated Arctic sea ice in the summer. Ice related risks defined in the Polar Operational Limit Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS) are dealt as constraint. Other constraints such as avoidance of land and shallow water are also included. These functions are demonstrated by the two case study vessels sailing between Rotterdam and Shanghai via both the Arctic and the traditional routes.

Ice resistance

Voyage planning

Arctic transit

Bathymetry in the Arctic



Zhiyuan Li

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Marine Technology

Jonas Ringsberg

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Marine Technology

Francisco Rita

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Marine Technology

Ships and Offshore Structures

1744-5302 (ISSN) 1754-212X (eISSN)

SEDNA - Safe maritime operations under extreme conditions: the Arctic case

European Commission (Horizon 2020), 2017-06-01 -- 2020-04-30.

Subject Categories

Mechanical Engineering

Materials Engineering

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Vehicle Engineering

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Mathematical Analysis

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology



Materials Science

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship


Basic sciences


C3SE (Chalmers Centre for Computational Science and Engineering)



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