ensure safe and secure maritime shipping. It is chaired by
Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx.
The committee’s “National Strategy for the Arctic
Region” implementation report, issued in January,
noted that while vessel traffic in the Arctic will remain
low when compared with other shipping routes, its
growth still can have consequences.
“Although the total number of vessels in the U.S. Arctic over the next 10 years likely will be relatively small
compared with other shipping lanes (240 vessels transited the Bering Strait, 16,596 vessels transited the Suez
Canal and 13,482 vessels transited the Panama Canal in
2013), the relative growth for ships operating in the
Bering Strait is great — as is the potential environmental
impact,” the report said.
The International Council on Clean Transportation,
an independent nonprofit organization in Washington,
studied what future vessel traffic could look like in its
“A 10-year Projection on Maritime Activity in the U.S.
Arctic Region” report released in January.
From 2008 to 2012, vessel activity in the U.S. Arctic
went from 120 vessels to 250, an increase of 108 percent.
“Based on vessel data from 2011-2013, it is clear that
activity is increasing in the U.S. Arctic,” the report said.
It estimates that by 2025 there could be a low of 1,093
vessel transits, or a high of 2,637, in the region. This
would represent a 150 percent or 500 percent increase
from baseline numbers in 2013.
The growth was attributed to several factors, including
oil and gas research and development, and sea lanes being
open longer due to ice melting. Container ships are projected to be most common ship transiting the region.
“Although the total number of
vessels and transits is small when
compared with other major shipping
routes such as the Great Circle Route
in the Pacific, the relative increase in
activity is significant for the region,”
the report said, echoing the Maritime
Transportation System panel’s report.
“Based on the application of various growth and development scenarios, there is considerable variability in potential growth projections,” it said.
A 2012 risk report conducted by
London-based insurer Lloyds and
the policy institute Chatham House,
“Arctic Openings: Opportunity and
Risk in the High North,” focused on
the viability of international trade
and the elements contributing to risk
for shipping in the Arctic.
The report noted several infrastructure, insurance and political risks for shipping in
the Arctic, but predicted there will be substantial
investment over the coming decade, potentially reaching $100 billion or more.
It and the International Council on Clean Transportation report agreed that any growth projection for
2025 will depend on the extent and pace to which ice
melts in the Arctic.
The Arctic remains a harsh operating environment,
with extreme cold, heavy fog, severe storms, unpredictable
ice flows and changing ice. To accommodate growth in
human use, there is a need for more robust marine transportation system information and response infrastructure
for search and rescue, pollution response, operational
assistance and to monitor vessel impacts to tribal fishing
rights, particularly in the Bering Strait, Brohl said.
Gary Rasicot, director for maritime transportation systems for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the service is looking
at shipping trends for the Arctic that will drive how it
operates in the years ahead. It does not have a permanent
base in the region, but that could change as it continues
looking at how to best modernize and govern.
“Things are changing in the Arctic, but they are not
changing, perhaps, on a daily basis. It takes companies
years to build ships able to transit in the Arctic, so
these are trends we can see in advance,” he said.
The director said the Coast Guard also wants to
broaden its partnerships, and the Arctic Coast Guard
Forum is one example of this.
“The Coast Guard cannot do everything up there
alone. … We are trying to figure out how best to do
this over the next 10 years,” Rasicot said. ;
23 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MAY 2015
Coast Guard Commandant ADM Paul F. Zukunft speaks during the Arctic Coast
Guard Forum (ACGF), a cooperative initiative between nations with shared maritime
interests in the Arctic, at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington March 25.
The ACGF is an operationally focused organization that strengthens maritime cooperation and coordination in the Arctic among member nations Canada, Denmark,
Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation and the United States.