I’d Love to See a Walrus Before I Die.
July 11, 2016 1:48 PM   Subscribe

On August 8, Crystal Cruises' ship "Crystal Serenity" will depart Anchorage, Alaska for a month-long cruise through the legendary Northwest Passage. Price per person: $120,095. Understandably, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of a 68,870 gross ton, 820-long, diesel-powered luxury liner cruising the fragile Arctic.

“The whole ecosystem is changing incredibly quickly — polar bears, ice seals, walruses are literally fighting for survival. This is no time to be adding additional stresses to such a sensitive situation,” said Mr. John Hocevar, a marine biologist. The cruise line is addressing such concerns with a $600 add-on option for passengers, a day-excursion entitled “Study in Global Warming.” As the Serenity's hull is not reinforced, passengers are required to carry $50,000 in evacuation insurance. “I don’t want a repeat of the Titanic,” said Adm. Charles D. Michel, second in command of the United States Coast Guard.

As for the passengers, they seem not to be overly concerned: "Mrs. Pendleton said she’s deciding which sparkly outfits to wear to the black-tie-optional dinners on the Serenity, and buying new binoculars in hopes of seeing a narwhal and a polar bear. 'We want to see the things before they’re gone,' she said.'"
posted by Scoop (61 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
> Its foray into these waters will test not only the ability of man and machine to avoid ice, but also the readiness of a multinational search and rescue coalition.

I don't see any reason why it has to test the latter.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2016 [21 favorites]


"The ship is absolutely, unquestionably impervious to Tuunbaq attacks," assured a Crystal Cruises spokesperson
posted by theodolite at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


Mrs. Pendleton said she’s deciding which sparkly outfits to wear to the black-tie-optional dinners on the Serenity, and buying new binoculars in hopes of seeing a narwhal and a polar bear. 'We want to see the things before they’re gone,' she said.

I can think of a much more effective thing for Mrs. Pendleton to do with her money that would ensure that not only she could see a polar bear, but so could other people after her.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:01 PM on July 11, 2016 [46 favorites]


It means I'm a bad person but: "The cruise line is addressing such concerns with a $600 add-on option for passengers, a day-excursion entitled “Study in Global Warming (that " includes a 250-mile round-trip flight to Shishmaref, Alaska, a village of 580 that is being lost to rising sea levels") followed by “I don’t want a repeat of the Titanic” immediately triggered a thought of:

"That makes one of us."

The whole thing reminds me of the second episode of the new Doctor Who where the Doctor takes Rose to see "The End of the World" and the wealthiest and most powerful aliens are on the ship to see Earth one last time before it burns.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:01 PM on July 11, 2016 [27 favorites]


'We want to see the things before they’re gone,' she said.'

... wow.


In other news, I'm glad they're requiring evacuation insurance. There will be a summertime Coast Guard presence with air assets in Kotzebue, and some cutters on patrol [PDF], but I would not want to be in that ship if something goes wrong.
posted by suelac at 2:02 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


The whole ecosystem is changing incredibly quickly

Then this seems like an ideal time to add new elements. Set up scheduled trips through there and make cruise ships part of the new homeostasis when the ecosystem settles down again.

It's unlikely you'll stop the Northern Passage from being used as a northern passage so we might as well plan for it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:03 PM on July 11, 2016


It is definitely interesting how we as a society have gone from "Climate change? Anti-business hippie lies!!!" to "Well, I want to see a walrus before they all die". One might have thought there would have been a "climate change? well shit, we were totally wrong - but maybe it's not too late!!!" moment in there somewhere.
posted by Frowner at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2016 [46 favorites]


“I don’t want a repeat of the Titanic,” said Adm. Charles D. Michel, second in command of the United States Coast Guard.
via Wikipedia: The Titanic's first class passenger list was a "who's who" of the rich and prominent of the upper class in 1912. A single person berth in first class cost between the equivalent of (£2,653 in 2014, and up to £76,929) for a parlour suite and small private promenade deck.[
posted by entropicamericana at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of an old Steve Martin routine about a crane operator who, "due to a poorly drawn map", mistakenly demolishes the Cathedral at Chartres, and then thinks to himself how lucky he was to have seen it before it was torn down.

These people could of course save their money and just drive around their own neighborhoods if they want to see a bunch of animals who aren't going to be around much longer.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


...Tuunbaq attacks

I get that reference! Excellent book.
posted by JohnFromGR at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Crystal Serenity" sounds like a long-lost Queensrÿche B-side.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:14 PM on July 11, 2016 [17 favorites]


Also see The End of the End of the World - An uncle’s legacy and a journey to Antarctica.
(recent New Yorker article by Jonathan Franzen)
posted by stevil at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2016


If 'exposure' is good enough for paying designers, I don't see what the wildlife has to complain of.
posted by thelonius at 2:23 PM on July 11, 2016


If 'exposure' is good enough for paying designers, I don't see what the wildlife has to complain of.

The main difference is that in the Arctic, it's pretty easy to die from exposure.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:25 PM on July 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


The difference in ecological impact between people like this and myself is so much smaller than the one between me and the majority of people is such that I'm finding it hard to feel superior right now, honestly.

I can think of a much more effective thing for Mrs. Pendleton to do with her money that would ensure that not only she could see a polar bear, but so could other people after her.

Okay, please share, because I'm feeling particularly pessimistic right now.
posted by ODiV at 2:26 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it would be a lot easier for me to get on-board with the idea if the company were a non-profit because all of their proceeds got used to buy carbon credits or something.
posted by VTX at 2:29 PM on July 11, 2016


This seems like low hanging fruit for (somewhat justifiable) eco-rage. there have been other cruises go through the passage, and really, can this ship's impact be that much greater on the ecology than a giant icebreaker grinding its way along, smashing the ice out of its way?
that being said, my schadenfreude meter is set to be pegged if anything goes dramatically wrong. Hopefully there will be social media picks of Mrs Pendleton's smiling visage...i want to see that thing, before it's gone.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:40 PM on July 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


All kinds of people visit the Arctic. Photographers, extreme sports adventurers, the military, scientists. Some people even live there and hunt and fish for subsistence. Who is to say which of these has more of a right to be there?

I don't like the tone of this article. I couldn't afford a trip even one tenth of the cost of this one but who am I to say someone else can't go? It's like when a visitor to some park who is there to admire wildlife looks askance at some one else who is there to ride their bike. The park is for everyone as long as they aren't destroying it.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


The Arctic is pleased to await your validation, Mrs. Pendleton.
posted by at by at 2:42 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]




With 1,070 passengers and a crew of 655, the Serenity is giant in comparison. Its foray into these waters will test not only the ability of man and machine to avoid ice, but also the readiness of a multinational search and rescue coalition. [...]

Mrs. Pendleton said that even though Crystal was taking the unusual step of requiring passengers to carry $50,000 in evacuation insurance, she wasn’t concerned.

“There are plenty of lifeboats on board,” she said.


Apologies for the extended quote, but....

A few years ago, I helped chair a couple sessions on Arctic response and related things. The Search and Rescue scenario was a almost exactly this, a luxury cruise liner going down off the coast of Greenland. We had the SAR leads for a couple of the involved countries present and they gamed this out, based on the state of the art at the time.

Getting the passengers into lifeboats was deemed to be pretty certain, probably over a 90%+ success rate. However, the first major danger faced by the passengers was thermal management in the boats. Consider, a 75+ year-old, possibly with pre-existing mobility issues, possibly with a broken limb from the event or from entering the lifeboat. They're wearing ship clothes, possibly with a sweater and jacket. They're in a rubber raft, with a 1/4" of reinforced membrane separating them from the 2-4C/35-39F water with effectively infinite thermal mass (it never gets warmer). The SAR folks pegged hypothermia with a 1/3 mortality rate after 24-hours at sea. Finding a beach on the west coast of Greenland, quite possibly in fog, with relatively poor aids could easily take a day, even if they were near shore. Several days were not considered unlikely.

So assuming landfall, now the survivors have to survive until rescue. Unfortunately for them, options are fairly limited. That part of Canada is not highly populated, and help isn't likely to come quick. There are a number of small communities on the western Greenlandic coast, but they would likely be very quickly overwhelmed by 1500+ people landing on a local beach. Most of the passengers and crew are going to have to live in the boat shelters until help arrives.

The Canadian Coast Guard has one major operational ship in the Arctic, the Louis St-Laurent. Its top speed is 30 kph and she has a crew of about 45. If they're lucky the CCGS Hudson may also be in the area; she's a lot smaller than the LSL, but she has a lot of crew capacity as a research ship. Still, both ships are likely weeks away and neither can carry more than an extra 100 or so people.

Heavy lift helicopter is probably the best option, though again options are limited. The CH-146 Griffon has a range of 650 km; the CH-149 Cormorants almost 1400 km. Canada has around a dozen or so, probably only 6 or so that could fly and are close enough to matter. It's likely just possible that those could reach the Canadian islands west of Greenland, or possibly all the way to the Greenlandic coast, but the closest are based in either Trenton or in Halifax---there is no permanent basing in the north as yet. So they're going to take 4-8 days to get on site. Fuel management will be a huge problem though, so the number of trips possible will be very limited.

In short, the cold passengers are going to have to wait around a week before significant levels of help arrives: medical attention, shelter, food. Lifeboats typically have rations for around 3 days and fairly basic survival gear. I would hope at least everyone would have an insulated floater suit (think lifejacket that covers your whole body), which will help with the cold a lot. And so far, we're assuming that the weather is relatively cooperative.

The expert group of SAR professionals figure that mortality rates from this Arctic cruise liner, particularly for passengers with elevated age, possibly pre-exisiting health or mobility issues, possibly further injured from the sinking or the transit over could thus exceed 50% before rescue could be made.
posted by bonehead at 2:45 PM on July 11, 2016 [150 favorites]


Air Greenland also has c. 20 helicopters, plus there's the military base at Thule; I haven't any idea how far their reach is or how fast they could get anywhere useful, though.

Even so, can anyone explain why this ship *doesn't* have a reinforced hull? Is it just too expensive or too heavy?
posted by nat at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2016


It's just a regular cruise ship. They've had it for 13 years.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:58 PM on July 11, 2016


It is definitely interesting how we as a society have gone from "Climate change? Anti-business hippie lies!!!" to "Well, I want to see a walrus before they all die"

Preach.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:02 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you want to get mad about boats in the Arctic, start with these ones. And remember that most of that oil is used for ground transportation. Nobody is innocent, here.
posted by klanawa at 3:03 PM on July 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


The park is for everyone as long as they aren't destroying it.

Mount Everest has turned into a pile of trash and corpses because of adventurers who can afford to have someone drag their ass up there.
posted by cmfletcher at 3:05 PM on July 11, 2016 [22 favorites]


That's pretty sobering bonehead. I know at least some of the Antarctic ships carry survival suits for everyone, but it could get pretty terrible, especially for more frail passengers. At least the Antarctic Peninsula has a decent number of smaller ships in the same area (if not within sight of each other) during the season, along with the occasional navy unit, so there are some options besides "wait a week" if things really, er, go south. The MS Explorer had rescue on hand fairly quickly and ended relatively well. Up north, there just isn't anybody around to do that.

The real nightmare scenario used to be something going wrong with one of the big cruise ships that would previously head down to the top of the Antarctic Peninsula, like Princess ships with thousands on board. If there's a serious accident on, say, a Lindblad ship and a few hundred people wind up taking refuge on another cruise ship in the area, chances are good everybody will survive. A serious emergency on a ship with 3,000-4,000 people out there, with no survival suits, would have left thousands with no refuge but lifeboats and could easily have resulted in a large number of deaths.

Even so, can anyone explain why this ship *doesn't* have a reinforced hull? Is it just too expensive or too heavy?

Crystal Serenity is an ordinary luxury cruise ship with all the usual amenities, not an expedition ship. It was never built for this and no cruise line would spend that kind of money.
posted by zachlipton at 3:07 PM on July 11, 2016


I can think of a much more effective thing for Mrs. Pendleton to do with her money that would ensure that not only she could see a polar bear, but so could other people after her.

Don't keep us in suspense! What is it?
posted by indubitable at 3:13 PM on July 11, 2016


The exercise I mentioned was actually assuming a "Princess Lines" scale vessel. They go to Greenland already, and the SAR folks were a little worried about the possibility of increased ship traffic with ice recession.

I'd hasten to point out that this was just a panel discussion. We didn't do a table-top exercise, as described in the article---though I'm curious why the passenger numbers were so small for that. We also didn't have direct access to the Greenlandic/Danish SAR capabilities either, though it was known that they didn't at the time have heavy lift capability around Greenland. The main wildcard here though is the possible aid from merchant vessels, which could be substantial. There's also heavy lift capacity in the north at some of the mining camps and in St. Johns to service the off-shore rigs. That's hard to predict capacity or availability though.
posted by bonehead at 3:19 PM on July 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Crystal Serenity" sounds like a long-lost Queensrÿche B-side.

Or a feminine hygiene product.

This whole thing is awful.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I hope Canada shuts this shit down. This is the last thing this area needs right now , ffs. The disturbance to wildlife and the people that live there, the possibility of oil spills and leakage... please feel free to carry on fucking up your own country. Canadian taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill if something goes wrong, either.

Go away.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:33 PM on July 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Was the TVO documentary The Polar Sea mentioned anywhere here when it first came out last year? If you missed it, it's really worth a watch - 10 episodes, 45 mins each; a stellar production from Ontario's public TV provider and Germany's ZDF/Arte. There's also an online component that delves deeper into each episode.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:44 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]



I can think of a much more effective thing for Mrs. Pendleton to do with her money that would ensure that not only she could see a polar bear, but so could other people after her. -- EmpressCallipygos

Mind enlightening us? Several billion a year is spent on global warming research and advocacy. What could a millionaire do that's not already being done? The places where the marginal millions of dollars would make a difference seem to be things like illegal geoengineering that seem too risky.
posted by hermanubis at 4:01 PM on July 11, 2016




The expert group of SAR professionals figure that mortality rates from this Arctic cruise liner, particularly for passengers with elevated age, possibly pre-exisiting health or mobility issues, possibly further injured from the sinking or the transit over could thus exceed 50% before rescue could be made.

We took a cruise for our honeymoon, which was explicitly marketed as a historical interest trip, with academic lectures about all the stops in Greece and Italy, and was probably 75-80% older retirees. We didn't mind being one of only a few people under 35 on the whole trip, but a lot of the other passengers were really struggling just to make it through the day's curated tours, and I'd guess that half of them didn't even attempt to leave the boat at the one stop that required tender boats to get to shore.

I'm also a huge fan of Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. The Artic weather is not playing around. I hope it's better in Summer, because the storms even in the early Fall can get gnarly, and that's 1000 miles south of the North Pole still.

Combining those two experiences sounds like possilbly the worst plan imaginable.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:43 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I hope Canada shuts this shit down. This is the last thing this area needs right now , ffs.

The Government of Canada maintains that it has the jurisdiction to shut such shit down, but the United States Government (among others) maintains that it's an international passage. I doubt we'll see the Canadian gov't try anything.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:51 PM on July 11, 2016


The "Price per person: $120,095." bit is misleading. That's the fare for the 1345 sq.ft Crystal Penthouse with Verandah. The per-person fares actually start from $21,855.
posted by eemeli at 5:11 PM on July 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fares actually start from just $21,855 if you book by 31 August. Also, that $120,095 fare (for a Crystal Penthouse) is broken down from the actual $242,190 price of the 2-person suite. And also, the fares do not include the reported $50k insurance. That is not even mentioned on the fare page, it turns up in the FAQ: "proof of a minimum of $50,000 per person in Emergency Evacuation Repatriation insurance is required". So the cost of the insurance is an extra.

"There will not be shore-based cell phone signals along the transit, except in the communities and towns we will be visiting. However, guests are requested to not use this signal when in port, as it will overwhelm the local system and disrupt the communication within the community."

And finally, they plan to do it again in 2017. So if disaster does not strike this year, it will get a second chance next year, and probably subsequent years too, until it does strike.

Jinx! eemeli.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 5:17 PM on July 11, 2016


Even so, can anyone explain why this ship *doesn't* have a reinforced hull? Is it just too expensive or too heavy?

The usual rule of thumb is that any question that can be phrased beginning with, "Why don't they...?" can be answered, "money."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:26 PM on July 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


You can already take a cruise to the North Pole on the nuclear icebreaker Fifty Years of Victory.
posted by borsboom at 5:51 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyone wanting to picket the Crystal Serenity can show up at my place on Friday -- they'll be arriving at the wharf a block and a half from here at 1:30pm. I've crash space for several.

;-)
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:57 PM on July 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


If a cruise ship really was in trouble up there, I would expect a ridiculous amount of resources would be mobilized to save their dumb asses. (Which really is a good thing, but it gives me torches-and-pitchforks feelings, at the same time.)

I know there are a lot of reasons for politicians to deny global warming, but it has been a long time since I talked to a person who was seriously in denial about it, even if they were still rabidly opposed to taking steps to address it, and the language here of "see the polar bears before they are gone!" fits with that.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:02 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mind enlightening us? Several billion a year is spent on global warming research and advocacy. What could a millionaire do that's not already being done?

Add to the "several billion"? Stay away from the Arctic and not contribute to the problem?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


Most people went straight from "global warming isn't a problem, so there's no need to do anything" to "global warming is insoluble, there's nothing we can do". We're just standing on the deck of the Titanic, waiting for it to slip under the waves.
posted by monotreme at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is no way Canadian resources should be diverted from our own issues into possibly bailing out these assholes. They have no fucking idea what they're doing and have no business peddling their sickening "nostalgia for better days™" while actually contributing to the destruction of habitat in the area. These are sovereign Canadian waters, I don't give a fuck what the USA says about it and I will doing my best to get my voice heard about this. The fucking hubris. From the article:

Crystal Cruises receives a failing environmental grade from Friends of the Earth, and is banned until 2018 from the Port of Monterey in California for discharging treated wastewater within its National Marine Sanctuary in 2003.

No. This is just wrong.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 6:28 PM on July 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I hope Canada shuts this shit down. This is the last thing this area needs right now , ffs. The disturbance to wildlife and the people that live there, the possibility of oil spills and leakage... please feel free to carry on fucking up your own country.

Time to get PM Trudeau involved:

Bursting With New Growth and Exciting Economic Opportunities

Canada’s newest territory is the size of Western Europe and roughly twice the size of the state of Texas. Nunavut is the youngest of the provinces and territories in Canada—created in 1999—but it is determined to make its mark on the world stage as a major economic player and an exciting place to do business. The territory harbours a wealth of natural resources spawning unprecedented opportunities in sectors ranging from mining to commercial fishing to eco-tourism.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 6:36 PM on July 11, 2016


I hope Canada shuts this shit down. This is the last thing this area needs right now , ffs. The disturbance to wildlife and the people that live there

The people that live there can decide for themselves if they need or want this disturbance. The article seems to suggest they're largely in favour of it.
posted by rocket88 at 8:20 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


but I would not want to be in that ship if something goes wrong.

They're old, they don't care. And in fairness I've spent time in the Arctic and it can be stunningly amazingly beautiful. If I were 80 years old and rich I'd take the chance.

The really big issue is if the wind blows the ice into shore along one of the shallow stretches. It can happen quickly and the boat won't have anywhere to go. Usually it's slushy pack ice in the summer but it can pile up fast when the conditions are right and even slushy ice is heavy.

Honestly, at that price though I'd imagine they have spotter aircraft, a somewhat flexible schedule to wait out the ice and all kinds of sonar. Unless they hit a shoal or very bad luck they'll probably make it ok. Do they have to go around Somerset Is though? That'll be hard to predict.

Remember if the TItanic had slowed the fuck down once they hit ice and fog they'd likely have made it.
posted by fshgrl at 8:50 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nunavut is the youngest of the provinces and territories in Canada—created in 1999—but it is determined to make its mark on the world stage as a major economic player and an exciting place to do business.

A new life awaits you in the Nunavut colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:05 PM on July 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


First they ignore it, then they ridicule it, then they attack and discredit the scientists who warn about it, then they offer tours.
posted by alexei at 9:34 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have long suspected that a large percentage of "Global Warming Deniers" were actually "Global Warming Is Real, And It Is Awesome!" believers who realized that it was going to be a political non-starter. This cruise is one of the first signs that this interpretation of Genesis 1:28 (the "fill the earth and subdue it" bit) meaning "kill nature and replace it with man-made" has a constituency, and a very affluent one.

Relevant lyrics from "Big Yellow Taxi":
Cut down all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum
Then charge the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em

posted by oneswellfoop at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


A new life awaits you in the Nunavut colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

The Canadian government has been promoting the natural resources of the NW Territories (of which Nunavut was a part) and the Yukon pretty much since just after the Confederation. The whole "go back to your country" thing is a bit funny, to be honest.

Everything is warming up, anyway, so they may as well figure out a way to make some coin off of the inevitable. It's not like the money spent on those tickets would do much to stop what's coming.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:02 PM on July 11, 2016


Remember if the TItanic had slowed the fuck down once they hit ice and fog they'd likely have made it.

No, they should have slowed down before they actually hit the ice. /technically correct
posted by entropicamericana at 5:11 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


re: rescue possibilities.... I spent a year and a half at Thule AB on the NW coast of Greenland a while back; and though its admittedly been a few years, I'm willing to bet their capacity to rescue anyone hasn't changed. (Thule is a radar site, and that's it. Nothing more, really.)

When I was there, there was one small 4-person Cessna permanently stationed at the base: there were no other planes or helicopters or any other aircraft. True, there were two cargo flights a week, but those only arrived or departed if the weather was decent (we simply did without if not), and they were just that, cargo craft not rescue. If all went well, a Scandanavian commercial flight usually landed (on its way to New York) once a month from around April to September, but again: definitely not a rescue plane. There was one rigid inflatable boat, usually beached because the bay at Thule is frozen solid most of the year --- we got in one cargo ship a year for the big stuff, and that only made it in, in July, by having an icebreaker cut a way in to the pier.

There's also a small Canadian outpost (Alert) on Baffin Island, but the way folks got in there was via a small cargo plane that flew from Newfoundland to Thule then on to Alert once every three months, so don't count on that being available at any given moment either.

Then you've also got international politics to deal with: the northwest passage is through Canadian territory, Thule is a US military base, and Greenland itself is Danish.
posted by easily confused at 7:07 AM on July 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Alert is on Ellesmere Island. It's as far north as it's possible to go in Canada, and basically nowhere near the passage.

Arctic Bay is on Baffin Island, right on the passage, and in addition to having a hospital and everything, they're currently building a naval facility in nearby Nanisivik, which will be where these vessels will be milling about. Neither the base nor the ships will be completed until 2018, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2016


There are many environmental and logistical reasons why this is a bad idea. Tourism is good and all if it's done responsibly – this isn't. It's really ill conceived and it's only a matter of time until there's an oil spill or a disaster if this becomes a new thing. Mark my words.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2016


I'd be surprised if the new icebreaker is on station until 2022 really, and Nanisivik has been really scaled back now. There was going to be a full CCG SAR station there at one point, but it looks like it will mostly be a dock and a ship fuel depot now. The Diefenbaker, when it's delivered, will be a real ice-breaker, with much more capability than the current Louis, but it's been pushed back by the new naval supply ships contract, and so the government is planning to extend the life of the Louis a bit more.

The Arctic Patrol Ship concepts aren't properly icebreakers, at least in the current sense. They're ice-hardened and can handle a little ice, but they're not ice breakers. They're also behind schedule, but, apparently, construction has started this year.
posted by bonehead at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2016


P.S. The airport in Nunavut's capital of Iqaluit, also on Baffin Island, started as a US military base back in the forties. It sees about 20,000 flights a year. (Averaging about 5 passengers each, but still.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2016


> It is definitely interesting how we as a society have gone from "Climate change? Anti-business hippie lies!!!" to "Well, I want to see a walrus before they all die". One might have thought there would have been a "climate change? well shit, we were totally wrong - but maybe it's not too late!!!" moment in there somewhere.

A couple of weekends ago my wife and I were visiting some friends of her she's known since childhood. They were talking about how much the weather has changed in their hometown since they were kids and one of the friends, normally by all appearances one of the most cheerful, upbeat people I know, blurted out "Our kids [she has two, my wife and I none] are fucked." There was a moment of awkward silence and then we all laughed it off and went back to small talk because...what the shit can you do?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:13 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The expert group of SAR professionals figure that mortality rates from this Arctic cruise liner, particularly for passengers with elevated age, possibly pre-exisiting health or mobility issues, possibly further injured from the sinking or the transit over could thus exceed 50% before rescue could be made.

Is any country actually, technically obligated to provide any kind of SAR? The way I see it, this could be a lot of welcome polar bear food to the area. Let 'em go I say.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:05 PM on July 13, 2016


Yeah, it's part of the Arctic Council agreements.

Funnily you should mention them though, the bears are not currently represented on the Council. Perhaps this should change.
posted by bonehead at 2:39 PM on July 13, 2016


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