Watch: U.S. Coast Guard searches for icebergs

Keith Gosse
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While the wreck of the Titanic crumbles into oblivion four kilometres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, one of the projects created as a result of the disaster continues to this day one kilometre above the icy waters.

The first flight of the season for the International Ice Patrol took place Friday and Telegram photographer Keith Gosse was invited along for a chance to observe how the crew aboard the HC-130J Hercules aircraft goes about the task of looking for icebergs.

The ice patrol was established in 1913 through an international treaty, one year after a collision with an iceberg claimed the Titanic and 1,517 lives. This year is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship.

The plane is operated by the United States Coast Guard and patrols the waters off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in an effort to locate and track icebergs and warn ships of their locations. The crew uses a combination of visual spotters and sophisticated radar calibrated to detect ice and icebergs.

Stationed at the Torbay airport and flying to a pre-planned area of the Atlantic Ocean about five times every second week, they can cover an area of nearly 50,000 square kilometres and detect an iceberg up to 65 kilometres away.

Thomas McKenzie, the public affairs officer who accompanied our photographer on the flight, described the flight path like “mowing the lawn and being able to see the area you just covered as well as the area you are about to cover.” 

As a bonus on this trip, the plane dropped to just over 100 metres above the ocean to deploy a WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment) buoy. For the buoy to drop, the rear cargo doors were opened and two crew members pushed the buoy down the ramp. A parachute on the buoy deployed to slow it’s descent to the surface. During this time, the two crew wore safety harnesses and The Telegram’s photographer was kept behind a safety barrier. The buoy sends back information on ocean currents which can affect the course and speed of a drifting iceberg.

Only some sea ice was spotted during the 6 1/2-hour trip Friday, but with an iceberg season that can stretch into the late summer months, the International Ice Patrol has only just begun it’s work for the year.

Organizations: U.S. Coast Guard, United States Coast Guard

Geographic location: Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland and Labrador, Torbay

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Recent comments

  • Carol Landry
    May 05, 2012 - 23:32

    Anyone know Eugene (Gene) Bower (or Brower) who was in the US Coast Guard and often worked with the crew on the Newfoundland coast back in the mid to late 1970s.

  • Say No to American Trash
    February 06, 2012 - 09:48

    They deployed an experiment with a parachute. In other words, they littered. I hope the stuff was biodegradeable.

    • Switch to decaf
      February 08, 2012 - 13:28

      I believe it was made out of fish food.... biodegradable? In other words unless your going to be part of the solution - don't be part of the problem.

  • ca rogers
    February 06, 2012 - 08:08

    You for got to include contact info so people can get involved???

  • Gus
    February 06, 2012 - 07:42

    Speaking of the Titanic, this April will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of said ship. People all over the world are capitalizing on this event...Halifax, New York, Hollywood, Southampten England, etc......EXCEPT NEWFOUNDLAND....the place that received the SOS signal....the place where the ship now rests!! The silence on this issue is deafening! Come on Newfoundland, get with the program. Don't let this milestone pass you by.

    • S Pinsent
      February 06, 2012 - 12:27

      Hi should check out NL is involved. Cheers.