(Mia Bennett/Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 7 May 2012) -- The Canadian Forces have just commenced one of their annual sovereignty exercises in the Arctic, called Operation Nunalivut. One-hundred fifty Canadian Forces personnel from the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Canadian Rangers are participating. This year, the exercises are taking place around Cornwallis Island and on the western portion of Devon Island in Nunavut. Sovereignty and search and rescue (SAR) training compose a large portion of the operations this year. Royal Canadian Navy divers dove under six feet of ice in Gascoyne Bay to simulate a medical rescue. Two Royal Canadian Air Force CC-138 Twin Otters also performed ski-landings to resupply a temporary camp in Viks Fiord. Another exercise helped Canada look into the dangerous past of the Arctic: sailors cut a hole into the ice with heated saws to submerge a remotely operated vehicle to survey the world's northernmost shipwreck, the HMS Breadalbane, which sank down into the murky depths in 1853. Participants are also testing new communications capabilities for Op Nunalivut. For the first time, rangers can communicate through a chat program that connects them both to headquarters in Resolute and Yellowknife, thousands of miles away in the Northwest Territories. ... Meanwhile, the U.S. is "behind the power curve regarding the Arctic" according to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp. The U.S. Naval War College's War Gaming Department recently carried out an operations game in which it found that the Navy is woefully unprepared and ill-equipped for activities in the Arctic. Without any heavy icebreakers, it must rely on other countries for that capability. Walter Berbrick, assistant research professor in the War Gaming Department, stated, "We have limited capability to sustain long-term operations in the Arctic due to inadequate icebreaking capability. The Navy finds itself entering a new realm as it relates to having to rely on other nations." Previously, the Navy mostly just had to rely on the Coast Guard, to whom it gave its last icebreaker, the Glacier, to the Coast Guard in 1966. That year, it decided to hand over all icebreaking operations.
Posted 8 May 2012; 10:52:50 PM. Permalink