In the Melting Arctic, a Harrowing Account from a Stranded Ship
The grounding of a research-cruise vessel in a remote polar region last week was a reminder of the hazards of increased ship traffic in an ice-free Arctic. Our correspondent was on board and reports on the ordeal and the long, uncertain wait for rescue.
BY ED STRUZIK
29 August, 2018
On the second day of a U.S. National Science Foundation-sponsored expedition to the Arctic, we were sitting in the presentation room of the 364-foot Russian cruise ship, Akademik Ioffe, about 45 miles north of the Inuit village of Kugaaruk.
We were learning how to hop in and out of one of the Zodiacs that were to periodically take us to shore and on the water over the next three weeks to study how climate change has influenced the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Had the weather not worked in our favor and there been thick ice such as we sailed through earlier, it could have ended far worse.
There will inevitably be more accidents, if the challenges associated with future shipping in the Arctic are not addressed.
The expedition leader advised us at the outset of our voyage that our routing might change depending on how the ice was behaving.
Passengers aboard the Akademik Ioffe watch as a plane arrives from the Canadian National Defence Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Ontario. It took nine hours for the plane to get to the grounded vessel. ED STRUZIK / YALE E360