Avoiding the next Titanic: Are we ready for a major maritime incident in the Arctic?

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Journal titleJournal of Ocean Technology
Pages112; # of pages: 12
SubjectPolar Region survival; marine safety; Arctic; major maritime incident; thermal protection
AbstractThe Arctic is open to major passenger activy with cruise ships carrying 1.5 million passengers into remote polar waters this year. These ships rely on loose guidelines and out-dated navigation charts to expand their territory; the potential for a major incident is foretold by three vessel groundings in the Northwest Passage this past season. Extreme distances between search-and-rescue resources and cruise operations limit the current emergency response; less than 2% of Canadian distress calls come from north of 60° latitude and the anticipated response time is 5 or more days. Passengers are not prepared for surviving the elements in the lag between evacuation from a ship and rescue by current crew training and life saving equipment that are not rated for thermal protection. Research into long-duration cold exposure, developments in thermal protection and changes to regulations are among the steps needed to improve the odds of surviving a major maritime incident in the Arctic. The complexity of a ship and its interactions with emergency responders call for a system-of-systems approach. A multi-disciplinary, international group representing some of the stakeholders have completed some research that highlights some of the potential risks in evacuating to lifeboats or life rafts in the North and proposes solutions. Changes to practice, revised regulations and new technologies tailored for the Arctic are emerging. More international coordination and collaboration on marine safety research is needed.
Publication date
AffiliationNRC Institute for Ocean Technology; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number17663331
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Record identifiera9e9b29f-918f-4918-8e70-c7768fd8ebc0
Record created2011-04-01
Record modified2016-05-09
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