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Large Fleet of Icebergs Impacting North Atlantic Shipping Lanes

Posted by Chris Leslie on Apr 7, 2017 6:07:00 AM

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Over 450 icebergs have drifted down into the North Atlantic shipping lanes, 363 of which have arrived over the past 7 days. This is forcing vessels to either dramatically lower their speed to navigate the icebergs, or take detours which can add up to 400 miles to the trip.

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90-Day Vessel Tracks from PortVision 360
 

In the image above, you can see how this vessels return path from the U.K. has dropped south compared to the voyage back in January.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard's International Ice Patrol, this number of icebergs is not usually seen until May or June. The average for this time of year is about 80.

Climate change has long been blamed for the accelerated melting of the Greenland ice shelf, however, experts are attributing the sudden increase on uncommonly strong counter-clockwise winds that are drawing the icebergs south.

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PortVision 360 Vessel Tracks of the Oceanex Sandering .The red positions in the screenshot above show when the vessel slowed to below 5 knots.
 

Oceanex cargo ships are slowing down to 3 or 4 knots as they return to their homeport in St. Johns, which can add up to an additional day on top of their voyage. One ship was taken out of service for repairs after hitting a chunk of ice. "It makes everything more expensive," Captain Hynes said Wednesday. "You're burning more fuel, it's taking a longer time, and it's hard on the equipment." 

Coast Guard Cmdr. Gabrielle McGrath is predicting a "exteme ice season", with more than 600 icebergs in the shipping lanes. Fortunately, in the 104 years since the International Ice Patrol was formed (after the Titanic sank in 1912), no ship that has heeded the warnings has struck and iceberg.
 
Stay safe out there!
 
PortVision 360's AIS vessel tracking service monitors vessel traffic along the North Atlantic shipping lanes, as well as all other commercial vessel movements around the globe. If you are interested in a FREE 2-week trial, click here!
 

Topics: AIS, Arctic, Shipping, Weather, Satellite AIS