International Ice Patrol Kicks Off Annual North Atlantic Season

Icebergs spotted somewhere in the North Atlantic during a U.S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
Icebergs spotted somewhere in the North Atlantic during a U.S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The International Ice Patrol began flying its first reconnaissance missions of the 2015 annual ice season earlier this month to detect and track icebergs in the north Atlantic.

In early February, the IPP deployed its first Ice Reconnaissance Detachment (IRD) to Newfoundland, Canada, to meet with Canadian partners and to conduct the initial aerial patrols of the season. During the reconnaissance, a total of 156 icebergs were spotted that could pose a threat to ships in transatlantic shipping lanes.

The IIP, which is organized by the U.S. Coast Guard but involves a handful of nations, conducts iceberg reconnaissance using HC-130J Hercules aircraft from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The mission of the IPP is to monitor the iceberg danger near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland within the busy transatlantic shipping lanes. The IIP then produces and releases iceberg information products from February 1st through August 31.

The USCG reports that the 2014 ice season was the sixth most severe season on record, with more than 1,500 known icebergs drifting into transatlantic shipping lanes. The severity of an ice season is measured by two factors; the number of icebergs passing south of the 48th parallel North, which marks the nominal northern boundary of the transatlantic shipping lanes, and the number of days that icebergs are present south of this latitude, according to the Coast Guard.

The International Ice Patrol was established by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea following the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 after it collided with an iceberg just south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada. During the last 102 years, no ship heeding IIP warnings has collided with an iceberg, the Coast Guard says.