Canada Teams With US to Advance Icebreaking Technology
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) hosted dignitaries from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, and the US Navy yesterday to discuss and showcase progress made on the testing and evaluation of design models for the US heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program.
The NRC is conducting environmental characterization of ice conditions using physical modeling from its ice tank.
“This collaboration benefits both countries as they engage in vital research and development to improve the technology of icebreaking ships,” said Iain Stewart, president of the NRC. “Our knowledge of how ships and offshore structures can operate in harsh environmental conditions combined with our world-class research facilities and expertise positions Canada as a strategic partner in providing safety and efficiency to the new US polar icebreakers.”
Enhanced icebreaking capabilities are considered to be a US national security imperative as well as important for maintaining shipping lanes through the Arctic region. Melting Arctic ice is opening the potential for regular northern shipping routes, which could reduce the time and cost of transporting cargo between Asia and the Americas.
The NRC’s testing is assessing the models’ maneuverability in ice and icebreaking resistance, building baseline requirements for new US heavy polar icebreakers, and expanding the current design and operational knowledge. The Canadian and US governments are also working on the long-term management of the polar icebreaker’s hull integrity, which they will assess through field trials.
“Model testing activities enable us to examine critical design elements and make informed design decisions early in the acquisition process,” said Rear Admiral Michael Haycock, US Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Acquisition and Chief Acquisition Officer. “The data we gather from model testing at the NRC is going to be a major driver of our heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program’s success and will be critical to our efforts to effectively manage costs, mitigate risks, and maintain an accelerated program schedule.”
This partnership was formalized through the Critical Infrastructure Protection and Border Security (CIPABS) Agreement, managed by the Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS), an Agency of the Department of National Defence, on behalf of the Government of Canada, alongside DHS S&T who manages it on behalf of the US Government. The results of this partnership will boost the knowledge and expertise of both the United States and Canada in icebreaking ship technologies.
“This is a wonderful example of international and cross-component collaboration,” said DHS Under Secretary (Acting) for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “Supporting the operational mission of DHS is why Science & Technology exists. In this case, I am particularly proud that S&T is able to work with our neighbours to the north and bring their expertise to bear on supporting the mission of the Coast Guard.”