“Operation Titanic”: U.S. turns to satellite technology to detect icebergs

It was the “unsinkable ship” right up until it wasn’t.  

10 minutes prior to the maiden voyage of the Titanic ended in calamity, a radio operator aboard the nearby SS Californian signaled that there was an iceberg in the ship’s path. The warning was disregarded, and the large collision that followed price tag above 1,500 life, prompting a wave of maritime innovations: sonar and radar navigation attributes, lifeboat drills and the creation of the Intercontinental Ice Patrol (IIP.)

Now, 110 several years soon after the sinking of the Titanic, the U.S. governing administration is acquiring a new technological know-how which is intended to detect and report icebergs to the maritime community.  

“Operation Titanic,” spearheaded by the Division of Homeland Security’s Science and Technologies Directorate, will fuse satellite-primarily based radar imagery with ship reporting devices to enable the U.S. Coastline Guard to determine glacial masses during the North Atlantic Ocean in genuine time.  

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Supplied by U.S. Coast Guard


Floating icebergs like the a single the Titanic struck on April 15, 1912, still pose navigational hazards right now for ships, oil rigs and army assets, suggests Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, the DHS senior official carrying out the duties of the underneath secretary for science and technological innovation, advised CBS News.

“The Titanic actually struck the iceberg at a latitude equivalent to the Massachusetts location,” Coulter Mitchell said. “These of us in this mission room never usually understand just how far south, how widespread the iceberg mission is.” 

The 16-human being IIP is funded by 17 nations bordering the trans-Atlantic, but is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard during ice season, from February through July.

The patrol to begin with relied on cutters deployed by the U.S. Coast Guard to study icebergs but switched to aircraft monitoring soon after Earth War II. Right now, the IIP pilots 9-working day plane missions just about every two months.

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Two members of the International Ice Patrol (IIP) fall a wreath at the web-site of the Titanic collision.

Offered by U.S. Coast Guard


“Procedure Titanic” will mark a “complete departure from [U.S. Coast Guard’s] numerous decades of traveling set-wing aircrafts to find icebergs,” claimed Coastline Guard Commander Marcus Hirschberg with the International Ice Patrol. . 

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  U.S. Coast Guard cutter patrols the North Atlantic.

Provided by U.S. Coastline Guard


“Aerial ice reconnaissance” routinely adds up to much more than $10 million in once-a-year fees for the U.S. Coastline Guard. Over and above the cost tag, C-130J aircrafts that fly bi-weekly missions – roughly 500 aircraft several hours per year – are also the U.S. Coastline Guard’s most hugely sought right after aviation property.  

“We’re heading to get a great deal a lot more bang for our buck once we can use individuals aircraft hours for disaster reaction, counterdrug functions, migrant functions and other parts,” Hirschberg additional. 

The U.S. federal government has invested $4 million in “Operation Titanic” to date, with dollars drawn from the Science and Technological innovation Directorate’s Exploration, Advancement and Innovation fund. 

And although comparable technologies are presently utilized by the U.S. govt in rescue missions and flood response, the new satellite know-how – which will attract photos from the European Area Agency satellites, U.S. professional vendors and Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation – will be the 1st of its type to entry worldwide satellite details. 

The satellite-primarily based radar imagery stays absolutely operational in dark, overcast problems that often avert ordinary plane functions. Hirschberg termed it a “video game-changer for forecasting the year.”

“When the Coast Guard came to us with this, the hope was to conquer the troubles with [technology] that is immune to darkness and overcast, so we can see further upstream of the transatlantic shipping and delivery strains than we ever have been just before to concern longer-expression predictions,” Coulter Mitchell said. 

“For forecasting, we’re searching at icebergs that are way much North that we can’t reach with aircrafts, even flying from St. John’s Newfoundland,” explained Hirschberg. 

“A ton of situations there is a mechanical issue with the airplane, inclement temperature, or we cannot get the hangar doorway open up because of superior winds. So we do eliminate a good deal of possibilities to fly,” he included. 

Glaciers in pieces of the North Atlantic are melting so quickly that modifications can be seen from house. The most recent “Arctic Report Card,” revealed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), uncovered the area warms 2 times as quick as the rest of the Earth, resulting in the rapid reduction of ice cover.

“We see so a lot season-to-year variability,” Hirschberg advised CBS Information. “In 2019, we experienced 1,500 icebergs pass south of 48° North latitude – about wherever the Titanic sank. In 2020, we experienced a single iceberg pass that restrict.”

U.S. Coast Guard officers foresee applying satellite illustrations or photos will support the department navigate modifications brought on by a reworking local weather.

The Worldwide Ice Patrol is slated to examination-operate “Procedure Iceberg” for two many years, starting in 2023 right before launching the plan.