September in the Arctic

By September 23, 2015 Article, Marine News, Technology No Comments

The Arctic has been one of the biggest points of interest in the maritime industry over the last few years. With climate change creating massive changes in the once forbidding region, more and more actors are entering the picture – governments establishing stronger footholds; natural resource companies angling for opportunities to explore and extract; shipping companies exploring more efficient routes to their destinations; conservationists advocating for the environment and the livelihoods of local communities; and travel operators and their clientele hoping for tourism revenues and adventure; just to name a few. It’s a complex and dynamic time for the Arctic, and this September saw a particularly heavy load of news for the region. Kemplon Engineering runs down some of these developments. A Call for Investments in Hard Assets Fit for the Arctic. President Barack Obama’s White House expects marine traffic to increase in the Arctic stemming from the receding extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice. This traffic may come from such varied sectors as fishing, tourism, cargo shipping and mineral exploration. With this expected uptick, comes a need for the United States to beef up its ability to be present in the region for purposes of keeping the seas open for scientific endeavors and global commerce, maintaining peace and stability, protecting natural resources, and search and rescue activities. This September, they elaborated on plans for investing in U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG”) icebreakers, and joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) and USCG mapping and charting activities.

Punctuating the United States’ intent of becoming a serious player in the Arctic? USCG Cutter Healy, with a 145-person team of crew and scientists in an expedition funded by The National Science Foundation, reached the North Pole on September 5. The historic trip makes the Healy only the fourth US surface vessel to do so, and the first American surface ship to arrive there unaccompanied.

Speaking of shipping traffic in the Arctic, according to the Global Ice Center of Japan-based Weathernews Inc., the Northeast Passage along Russia and the Northwest Passage across Canada are both open to shipping traffic for the first time since 2013. The length of time the passages will remain open are limited, and the agency had mentioned there is still scarce information on the Northern Sea Route (“NSR”).

The Entertainment Industry is playing a part in the region too. Working in collaboration with Greenpeace, the famous Funny or Die production team, along with actors Alexander Skarsgard of HBO’s True Blood and Jack McBrayer of NBC’s 30 Rock, are making a series of comedy shorts tackling the issue of industrial dangers to the Arctic. Environmentalists fear oil extraction in the area can speed up climate warming, further exacerbating threats to the habitats of local wildlife including polar bears, seals, whales and walruses, and causing extreme weather events in other parts of the globe. The Funny or Die collaboration is aimed at creating even more public awareness for what is going on in the Arctic. Other iconic celebrities who have been involved in Arctic advocacy are Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Redford, Ted Danson, and Emma Thompson.

If you have an interest in the Arctic, it is just one of the news items followed by Kemplon Engineering on our maritime industry blog (see related articles, “Luxe Expedition Ship For Arctic Tourism;” “Russia, Nuclear Icebreakers, & the Race for Arctic Oil-Gas;” and “HMCS Harry DeWolf Class Vessels: Canada’s Instrument for Arctic Control”).

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Joling, Dan. “Actors join campaign to draw attention to Arctic issue.” Yahoo! News, 18 Sep 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2015.

“NSR, Northwest Passage Open for Shipping.” World Maritime News, 11 Sep 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2015.

“Obama calls for building of new USCG icebreakers.” MarineLog, 01 Sep 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2015.

“USCG icebreaker Healey reaches North Pole.” MarineLog, 09 Sep 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2015.

“Weathernews beefs up polar routing capabilities.” MarineLog, 12 Sep 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2015.

Image “Animal Footprints In Snow” courtesy of digidreamgrafix at