The measures to improve security and safety include a best-practice guide for cruise ships travelling in Canada’s Arctic waters as well a probable tightening of regulations for smaller vessels travelling in the Northwest Passage.
Arctic cruises are the latest thing in high-end tourism. Icebergs, polar bears, beluga whales, awe-inspiring vistas and isolated Inuit communities – what’s not to like for the jaded traveller?
Michael Byers, Globe and Mail, 18 April 2016
This summer, thousands of people will sail the Arctic’s increasingly ice-free waters. At the very top end, the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity, will traverse the Northwest Passage from Anchorage to New York City. The 1,070 passengers will pay up to $120,000 (U.S.) for the privilege.
But here’s the thing: Arctic cruises involve greater hazards and environmental impact than just about any other kind of tourism.
McKenzie Funk, New York Times Magazine, December 30, 2014
In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell, then the fourth-largest company on Earth, bought a drill rig that was both tall, rising almost 250 feet above the waterline, and unusually round. The hull of the Kulluk, as the rig was called, was made of 1.5-inch-thick steel and rounded to better prevent its being crushed. A 12-point anchor system could keep it locked in place above an oil well for a full day in 18-foot seas or in moving sea ice that was four feet thick. Its drill bit, dropped from a 160-foot derrick, could plunge 600 feet into the sea, then bore another 20,000 feet into the seabed, where it could verify the existence of oil deposits that were otherwise a geologist’s best guess. It had a sauna. It could go (in theory) where few other rigs could go, helping Shell find oil that (in theory) few other oil companies could find. ...
In the 1990 thriller The Hunt for Red October, the rogue captain of a Soviet submarine evades the U.S. and Soviet navies by threading his way through a narrow – but precisely charted – mid-ocean trench.
In real life, the Soviet navy’s charting efforts extended to the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Soviet-era charts, available today, show more depth soundings in the Northwest Passage than Canada’s most recent charts do.
The Cold War is over, but Russia still takes the Arctic seriously. Russian nuclear-powered submarines still sail under the sea ice, where Canada’s diesel-powered submarines cannot venture.
Pricey, plodding Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships ill-fitted to their planned missions.
A/OPS: Destined to be subject of derisive maritime pub songs?
Michael Byers & Stewart Webb, 24 April 2013, TheTyee.ca
Peter MacKay is no stranger to maritime pubs. He could probably recite the words of Stan Rogers' Barrett's Privateers while drunk and standing on his head. But does Canada's defence minister realize that he's fast becoming the 21st-century version of Elcid Barrett, who led a group of blindly ambitious men on a dangerous folly?
Vessels government has ordered aren't fit for Arctic role, think tanks say
CBC News, 11 April 2013
The Harper government's $7.4-billion plan to buy Arctic offshore patrol ships is headed toward a 'titanic blunder,' because the ships are not adequate for working in the region, a couple of independent think tanks say.
A 50-page report denouncing the plan was released today by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report is also critical of the government's plans for a refuelling station at Nanisivik in Nunavut.
In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the plan to purchase six to eight Arctic offshore patrol ships.
The report says that if the government sticks to its current course, the effects will be a disaster for two reasons.
On an otherwise ordinary Monday in early August, a ship built in Asia, travelling from Europe and bound for Africa sidled up to the berths of the port in Churchill, Man., ready to be loaded with Canadian grain.
After filling the hull with Prairie wheat, the MV Puffin was off, bound for the Nigerian port of Lagos with 42,779 cubic metres of cargo.