Proceedings Of The Marine

FALL 2011

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Raising the Ante Mass rescue operations in the Arctic. by MR. HAROLD HUNT 0DVV 5HVFXH 2SHUDWLRQV 3URJUDP 0DQDJHU 8 6 &RDVW *XDUG 2IÀFH RI 6HDUFK DQG 5HVFXH The decline of Arctic sea ice at rates faster than cli- mate scientists initially predicted may soon open the Arctic to shipping and development. In fact, a recent study indicates that we could see an ice-free Arc- tic before 2050.1 This could mean, in addition to the thrill-seekers, adventurers, hunters, and individual explorers that currently trek to this area, we could see a rise in nature, cultural, and cruise tourism in the region, as well. According to Dr. John Snyder of Strategic Studies, Inc., in Centennial, Colo., Arctic tourism develop- ment is the goal for Greenland, Nunavut, Manitoba, Yukon, Sami, the Russian Federation, and Native Alaskan economies. Additionally, the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) report notes that pas- VHQJHU DQG FUXLVH YHVVHO DFWLYLW\ UHSUHVHQWV D VLJQLÀ- cant proportion of vessel activity in the Arctic, and that such activity is growing. The AMSA report also HPSKDVL]HV WKH VLJQLÀFDQW PDQDJHPHQW FKDOOHQJHV SRVHG E\ WKH FRQWLQXHG LQFUHDVH LQ WKLV WUDIÀF LQFOXG- ing those pertaining to passenger safety needs and protection of the Arctic marine environment from sinkings, groundings, and pollution.2 What This Means for Search and Rescue Today, mass rescue operations are low-probability/ high-consequence events. With an ice-free Arctic, they have the potential of becoming high-probability (common occurrence)/high-consequence (with very serious outcome) events. To make matters worse, there may be confusion on how best to respond to an incident in the Arctic, who should respond, how we communicate, and who is in charge, which will fur- ther amplify the ensuing calamity. Communications are essential for mariners for rou- WLQH RSHUDWLRQV DQG VDIHW\ SXUSRVHV 3DVW H[SHUL- ence and repeated lessons learned have shown that the issue is and always has been a problem. As you go farther from the shore, more equipment will be required. The VHF radio has a range of 25 to 50 miles, depending on antenna height and atmospheric condi- tions. Coastal vessels, for example, only have to carry minimal equipment if they do not operate beyond the range of shore-based VHF radio stations. But there is no hard-and-fast rule for where "offshore" begins, SDUWLFXODUO\ LQ WKH 3RODU UHJLRQV ,Q VRPH DUHDV you may have trouble calling for assistance beyond approximately 30 miles from shore. Marine Incidents Involving Polar Cruise Ships Marine Incidents Events Polar Cruise Ships Sunk, 1979–2007 Polar Cruise Ships Running Aground, 1972–2007 Pollution and Environmental Violations, 1992–2007 Disabling by Collisions, Fires, Propulsion Loss, 1979–2007 Total Events 8 27 40 28 Since 2000 5 16 18 22 Percent Since 2000 63% 59% 45% 79% Sources: Public Media Sources, Ross A. Klein, PhD, and All ships that transit Arctic waters have to carry HF, MF, and VHF equipment. But even current satellite equipment will only help you so much. Geostationary satellites, which are positioned above the equator, can't receive information from the distant VHD DURXQG WKH 1RUWK 3ROH $JDLQ ZLWK 2011 communication technology, we have long-range communications equipment, VXUYLYDO JHDU DQG WKH 0+] (3,5% EXW all this communication equipment will be old technology in 2050. Fall 2011 Proceedings 25 Coast Guard

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