Ice-Breaking Fleets of the United States and Canada: Assessing the Current State of Affairs and Future Plans
Article Open Access
In recent years, a continuous decline of ice-coverage in the Arctic has been recorded, but these high latitudes are still dominated by earth’s polar ice cap. Therefore, safe and sustainable shipping operations in this still frozen region have as a precondition the availability of ice-breaking support. The analysis in hand provides an assessment of the United States’ and Canada’s polar ice-breaking program with the purpose of examining to what extent these countries’ relevant resources are able to meet the facilitated growth of industrial interests in the High North. This assessment will specifically focus on the maritime transportation sector along the Northwest Passage and consists of four main sections. The first provides a very brief description of the main Arctic passages. The second section specifically explores the current situation of the Northwest Passage, including the relevant navigational challenges, lack of infrastructure, available routes that may be used for transit, potential choke points, and current state of vessel activity along these routes. The third one examines the economic viability of the Northwest Passage compared to that of the Panama Canal; the fourth and final section is investigating the current and future capabilities of the United States’ and Canada’s ice-breaking fleet. Unfortunately, both countries were found to be lacking the necessary assets with ice-breaking capabilities and will need to accelerate their efforts in order to effectively respond to the growing needs of the Arctic. The total number of available ice-breaking assets is impacting negatively the level of support by the marine transportation system of both the United States and Canada; these two countries are facing the possibility to be unable to effectively meet the expected future needs because of the lengthy acquisition and production process required for new ice-breaking fleets
Drewniak M, Dalaklis D, Christodoulou A, Sheehan R. Ice-Breaking Fleets of the United States and Canada: Assessing the Current State of Affairs and Future Plans. Sustainability. 2021; 13(2):703.