U.S. COAST GUARD
Lt. Cmdr. Monty Nijjar, attached to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., looks out over an ice pack that stretches
to the coast of Labrador, Canada, as he pilots an HC-130J transporting members of the Coast Guard International Ice
Patrol, April 7, 2011. The Ice Patrol was gathering data on ice conditions, icebergs and their movements to send to the
International Ice Patrol headquarters in New London, Conn.
hours because of the weight of the crew and electronics
onboard. The HC-130J gets about seven hours per mission. The HC-144A also flies about 600 less track miles
per mission than the HC-130J.
Iceberg conditions are largely gathered through air
surveillance missions. The Coast Guard depends heavily
on its AN/APS-135 Side-Looking Airborne radar and
AN/APS-137 Forward-Looking Airborne radar along
with visual sight from the crew. The radars sometimes
cannot detect an iceberg, based on its shape and size, but
the crew can easily spot one. Shippers also are asked to
report the location and time of an iceberg to the operations center when in the vicinity of the Great Banks.
Once the iceberg limit is established, it is broadcast
over radio stations around the United States, Canada
and Europe, and posted on the Internet at specific websites, such as the IIP’s: www.navcen.uscg.gov.
In recent years, the Coast Guard has been comparing the efficiency of the current method of aircraft flyovers to the use of satellites in locating icebergs.
“The [satellites] are great at picking up the larger
icebergs, but not the smaller icebergs, which are the
larger threat to shipping. … We are still going back and
forth, but the ultimate end goal would be to go to satel-
lites and not have to use airplanes, to save money, and
ship people up there, but with the environment up
there it’s just not possible yet,” Hendry said.