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.
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.