On July 12, the 225-foot US Coast Guard Cutter Maple departed on a voyage through the Northwest Passage. The cutter will serve as a ship of opportunity to conduct scientific research near the Arctic Circle, in support of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The Maple crew will deploy three sonographic buoys that are used to record acoustic sounds of marine mammals. A principal investigator with the University of San Diego, embarked aboard the cutter, will analyze the data retrieved from the buoys.
In addition, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier will rendezvous with the Maple later this month to provide icebreaking services, as the Maple makes it way toward Victoria Strait, Canada.
This summer marks the 60th anniversary of the three Coast Guard cutters and one Canadian ship that convoyed through the Northwest Passage. The crews of the USCG Cutters Storis, SPAR and Bramble, along with the crew of the Canadian ice breaker HMCS Labrador, charted, recorded water depths and installed aids to navigation for future shipping lanes from May to September of 1957. All four crews became the first deep-draft ships to sail through the Northwest Passage, which are several passageways through the complex archipelago of the Canadian Arctic.
USCG noted that all scientific research, icebreaking and marine science activities that occur during the voyage will be conducted in accordance with the 1988 Canada-US Agreement on Arctic Cooperation. The Maple crew is expected to conclude their historic voyage in Baltimore, Maryland, during late August.