Once more the situation in the Arctic gives pause for thought. With freight cost causing insane food prices and locking Inuit Economic development in a vice of death; new thinking is called for. Often I have heard from many those dwelling in the North want freight and personal transport a certain way. And that it must be unified. For many reasons I do not accept this premise. Depending on the current Ro-Ro oriented passenger Ships is a formula for expensive operations. Which in itself creates a rare niche of very large and over-powered ships. Which are expensive to build. Drink fuel like there is no tomorrow. And are costly to maintain to multiple tough standards. Suffering a triple whammy of passenger regulations, Ice classed Standards, and Cargo regulations.
For these reasons I find the best long term solution would be to exercise the recruitment of various ice classed General Cargo Ships. Preference being given to having at least a 30 ton crane and tween decks. And leaning to some Ro-Ro capability. But here we only derive a partial solution. As the short shipping season rears it's ugly head. A big problem, especially in terms of financing ships of Ice Classed operations. Essentially dictating any ship plying these routes carry a big mortgage payment to start with.
In the past this would have been seen as a problem. And it is to a degree. But in seeing another common complaint, we might have a silver lining. This complaint being the use of Sea-cans...err rather TEU containers that are in use everywhere. The problem being the poor state of containers. The rather bad loading and sorting of them. And the total lack of container handling equipment in nearly all ports they abandon them in.
This means two things. A) We need to examine smaller container types. And B) With a smaller container use, we can look at smaller, more fuel efficient ships. Now add in the desire to extend the shipping season past what mother nature allows and we have a new opportunity.
What is needed is a ship sometimes. And sometimes as mother nature permits; an Air cushioned Vehicle. And in this case I would propose a ship that in ice season, modularly becomes an Air Cushioned Vehicle. Not one we know in the common sense. But one that could make way in heavy winds at a leisurely pace, not much faster then it is normally accustomed to. Having enough installed power to push her over terrain it needs to tackle. In this case perhaps around some shorelines and beaches to avoid winter storms.
Yes. I know. It sounds daft at first, but more is yet to come on this line of mental gestation.