There’s talk about a future container hub in an unlikely place – Reykjavik, Iceland.
Gerhardt Muller, retired professor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, said the shrinking of the polar icecap could eventually provide ocean carriers with an Atlantic-Pacific shortcut through the Arctic Circle.
Speaking at a Transportation Research Forum in Newark, N.J., on the future of the port industry, Muller said he’s heard discussion in Europe that Reykjavik could eventually serve as a hub port for container shipments if a Northwest Passage route ever becomes a reality.
Don’t look for Reykjavik to overtake Singapore or Shanghai anytime soon, however. The Northwest Passage’s shorter distance would reduce carriers’ fuel costs but global warming would have to be much more established trend before anyone takes a plunge on an Arctic Circle route.
Asked how a Northwest Passage route might affect the Port of New York and New Jersey, Rick Larrabee, the port authority’s director of port commerce, said it would provide another shipping option. But as a retired Coast Guard admiral, he added a cautionary note.
Two decades ago, Larrabee was involved in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill. He noted that cleaning up oil pollution in the Arctic region is not easy, and that environmental issues might discourage widespread use of a Northwest Passage route.