ARCTIC: Arctic Shipping a Myth?

September 6, 2013 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Are Arctic shipping lanes for real?

A continuing concern of the five countries that border the Arctic Ocean is that melting sea ice will create — sooner rather than later — previously non-existent shipping lanes that could pose all sorts of headaches like oil spills and search and rescue operations in a remote and hostile environment with little infrastructure.

Arctic Circle Nations

Arctic Circle Nations

But Tom Ricks’¬†Best Defense blog¬† notes there’s an article out by an experienced maritime shipping executive that pooh-poohs the idea that melting sea ice in the Arctic will lead to a “Cold Rush” of commercial interests at the top of the world crowding Arctic waters with cargo ships, tankers and cruise ships.

The article, in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, maintains that despite record low formation of Arctic sea ice in recent years, “it is virtually certain” that the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada won’t ever be useful to international trade. That’s because¬† transiting the Arctic may not be as cheap or fast as proponents suggest, according to the article’s author, Stephen Carmel.

Visibility may still be poor due to fog that is common in the region, winds can blow large chunks of ice into transit lanes. Neither the Northwest Passage nor the Northern Sea route across Russia can accommodate the largest container ships. Also ships will need additional structural toughening and and crews will need more training to transit Arctic waters — all of it expensive., says Carmel, a senior vice president with the Maersk Line and former merchant ship’s master.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, Disaster Relief, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense. Tags: , , , , , , .

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