In an effort to expand its maritime capability in the
region, Canada also has started work on a naval refueling
facility on Baffin Island, Nunavut, the sparsely populated
territory that forms most of the Canadian Arctic
Archipelago. Originally, the plan was to build a deepwater port, but, because of the high costs of construction
in the Arctic, that has been scaled back to a $130 million
refueling site for the Royal Canadian Navy.
The site will be used to support the country’s new
Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), which are to
operate during the summer months. Full operational
capability of that facility is planned for 2018, about the
same time that the first AOPS of the six to be built is
scheduled for delivery.
Surveillance of Arctic waters also could play a role
in the future of the joint U.S.-Canadian North
American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.
In 2006, a maritime warning function was added to
NORAD’s role in protecting the continent. Information
about vessels approaching North America, as well as
activities on internal waterways, is collected and shared
between Canada and the United States.
But NORAD now is examining how it will operate
toward the 2025 to 2030 time frame. A briefing produced
in June 2012 for the Canadian government noted that
NORAD is specifically interested in modernizing its surveillance network to provide improved multi-domain
coverage, particularly of the Arctic region.
At a January 2015 news conference in Washington,
U.S. Navy Adm. William Gortney, head of NORAD and
the U.S. Northern Command, said the Arctic remains
“key terrain as the northern approach to North America.”
NORAD’s Arctic road map, Gortney said, calls for
“persistent domain awareness, robust communications,
The researchers have been examining the possibility
of deploying a system that would allow for surveillance
of maritime surface and sub-surface objects 365 days
per year, 24 hours per day.
The idea would be to install sensors at one or more
maritime choke points in the Canadian Arctic. Such a
system would have a satellite communications relay
back to a command center in southern Canada. The
33 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / APRIL 2016
The Hammerhead unmanned surface vehicle carried cameras, radar and communications antennas during a 2012 test run in
Gascoyne Inlet, near Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. This sensor package was used to evaluate methods for anti-collision and
navigation through ice floes. More tests are planned for this summer.