Drug seizures might be “up” in the Artic

The article below, from Fairplay, reports on the United States foray into the development of a safe and commercially viable northwest passage. But one must wonder of the seriousness or the effectiveness of the effort when they are sending an aging medium endurance, probably not ice strengthened, law enforcement cutter into such a notorious area.

I guess the US wants to jump on the “claim the arctic” bandwagon; the line starts right after Canada, Finland, Denmark, to name a few. And lets not forget Russia, which probably has the most serious fleet and operating experience in the Arctic; should be interesting to see what the future holds, which I am sure, is firmly under mother natures control. On the bright side / other hand, maybe the US government is taking a gentler approach, mmmmm.

– Martin

USCG to assess Northwest Passage

WASHINGTON, DC 15 February – Prospects for commercial shipping use of the Northwest Passage brightened yesterday when the USCG said it will begin assessments of the Pacific-Atlantic shortcut in the spring.

Following his annual State of the Coast Guard address where he reiterated his “Honour the past, don’t operate in it” message, Adm Thad Allen told Fairplay that he plans to send a cadre of vessels and aircraft to the North Slope area following the seasonal thaw to assess the waterway’s use for commercial transits.

He said the taskforce will be led by a 210-foot (64m) cutter and will be joined by a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency charged with marine charting. The commandant said the “prototype deployment” of USCG vessels and aircraft will test their viability in the icy climes, while the primary mission is to access the navigability of the passage. “We have to look at bottom contours, aids to navigation and the overall usability of the passage,” he said. He noted that with the melting ice, the channel appears an attractive alternative for vessels passing between oceans. “We have to make sure it’s safe,” he cautioned, however.

More info about the 210 foot cutter (Reliance Class) and the USCG page on the cutters.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. First off the US is not a signatory of UNCLOS. They have no rights under international law in claiming any waters. Though I am sure they will manage to finagle their way in.
    Second, the USCG is infringing in Canadian waters if they intend to investigate the NW Passage. Let’s watch and see if the CCG sends a ship to escort them. When this happened in the 80’s a Canadian icebreaker escorted the US breakers.
    Thirdly, I wonder if these ships meet the Arctic Pollution Regulations, they should be inspected prior to entering Canadian waters (like that will happer). If our own Navy can go North and most likely not meet it, why would we worry about other country’s government ships.

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