Tis the Season ’
U.S. Coast Guard begins ice patrol mission in the North Atlantic
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
The IIP was started after RMS
Titanic hit an iceberg in the North
Atlantic and sank on April 15,
1912, killing 1,517 people. Since
the formation of the IIP there has
not been a single reported loss of
life or property damage as a result
of a ship hitting an iceberg in the
areas it monitors.
During its operational season,
the IIP will send a crew of around
five people to St. John’s, Newfoundland, usually aboard a Coast
“They determine if it’s safe enough to fly and we
determine if the weather will allow us to see what we
need to see,” said Marine Science Technician 2nd Class
While onboard the HC-130J, the IIP will mark the
position, size and shape of each iceberg and send that
information back to the operations center. There, the
data will be analyzed and entered into a projection system that applies environmental factors to estimate
where the iceberg will go. In Newfoundland, the crew
will stay around nine to 10 days and fly, weather per-mitting, as many missions as it can.
The patrols last five to seven hours and cover
around 30,000 square miles. The IIP primarily uses the
HC-130J for its missions, but during the last year it
tested the feasibility of using the HC-144A Ocean
Sentry maritime patrol aircraft. Hendry said it’s a good
aircraft, but does not have the endurance of HC-130J.
Although the HC-144A is capable of flying up to
nine hours per flight, Hendry said they get about six
The International Ice Patrol (IIP) conducts seasonal iceberg
patrols in the North Atlantic Ocean to make sure another accident such as the Titanic disaster is avoided.
; Since the formation of the IIP in 1913, there has not been a single reported loss of life or property damage as a result of a ship
hitting an iceberg in the areas it monitors.
; U.S. Coast Guard HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft
have flown three ice patrol missions over the past year.
; Satellites are being tested to see how effective they are locating
The U.S. Coast Guard’s seasonal observance of icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean start- ed in February, and the service is looking
continue its record of accident- and casualty-free shipping lanes.
The International Ice Patrol (IIP), a 16-member unit
based at an operations center in New London, Conn.,
has conducted ice-observation missions each season,
except for the years during the two World Wars, since
1913. Their main goal is to monitor icebergs near the
Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, and provide
the iceberg limit — a fair representation of where the
iceberg could be, based on sight and data — to the
maritime community. The IIP ceases observation operations when iceberg conditions dictate, usually around
July. The center is open year round.
“Icebergs pose a really big threat to the ships, especially in that area with the weather concerns and the
North Atlantic current coming down the Gulf Stream,
meaning there’s fog, rough seas, there’s bad weather, and
then you throw icebergs in there and it becomes a pretty
dangerous area for ships coming through,” said Marine
Science Technician 2nd Class Sara Weitkamp.