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International Ice Patrol

Coast Guard C-130 fixed wing aircraft overflies an iceberg during patrol

A Coast Guard C-130 fixed wing aircraft overflies an iceberg during patrol. Service with the International Ice Patrol is one of the many operations of the C-130. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Top 10 facts about the International Ice Patrol
by: LT Stephanie Young

Shipping areas in the North Atlantic have always been hazardous to navigate. The hazards of the North Atlantic captured global attention in April 1912 when the RMS Titanic sank after it struck an iceberg. The incident prompted maritime nations with ships transiting the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, Canada, to establish an iceberg patrol in the area. Since 1913, the U.S. Coast Guard has been tasked with the management and operation of the patrol. Except for the years of World Wars I and II, the ice patrol has been active each ice season since its inception.

This is the only location in the world where icebergs endanger a major shipping route, and the ice patrol provides accurate and timely iceberg information to assist transatlantic mariners in avoiding them. Maritime traffic between Europe and North America typically follows routes that are intersected annually by an average of 500 icebergs.

Coast Guard Cutter Willow transits past an iceberg

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Willow transits past an iceberg during their Arctic patrol. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton

International Ice Patrol website
North American Ice Service website
U.S. National Ice Center website
Canadian Ice Service website

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