Polar Ice Breaking – Another Homeland Security Mission

homeland security

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Enhanced icebreaking capabilities are considered to be a US national security imperative as well as important for maintaining shipping lanes through the Arctic region. Melting Arctic ice is opening the potential for regular northern shipping routes, which could reduce the time and cost of transporting cargo between Asia and the Americas.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) discussed with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, and the US Navy the progress made on the testing and evaluation of design models for the US heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program.

The NRC is conducting environmental characterization of ice conditions using physical modeling from its ice tank.

“This collaboration benefits both countries as they engage in vital research and development to improve the technology of icebreaking ships,” said Iain Stewart, president of the NRC. “Our knowledge of how ships and offshore structures can operate in harsh environmental conditions combined with our world-class research facilities and expertise positions Canada as a strategic partner in providing safety and efficiency to the new US polar icebreakers.”

According to globaltrademag.com, the NRC’s testing is assessing the models’ maneuverability in ice and icebreaking resistance, building baseline requirements for new US heavy polar icebreakers, and expanding the current design and operational knowledge.

The Canadian and US governments are also working on the long-term management of the polar icebreaker’s hull integrity, which they will assess through field trials.

“Model testing activities enable us to examine critical design elements and make informed design decisions early in the acquisition process,” said Rear Admiral Michael Haycock, US Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Acquisition and Chief Acquisition Officer. “The data we gather from model testing at the NRC is going to be a major driver of our heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program’s success and will be critical to our efforts to effectively manage costs, mitigate risks.”

This partnership was formalized through the Critical Infrastructure Protection and Border Security (CIPABS) Agreement, managed by the Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS), an Agency of the Department of National Defence, on behalf of the Government of Canada, alongside DHS S&T who manages it on behalf of the US Government.