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A century ago, the thought that ships might ply the Arctic region with any frequency was nearly inconceivable.
What a difference 100 years — or even 10 years — can make. The volume of vessels venturing into the Arctic nowadays is such that the U.S. and Russia are proposing traffic-control measures for Arctic waters.
“Over the past decade, the U.S. and Russia have both observed a steady increase in Arctic shipping activity,” Mike Sollosi, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Standards Division, said in a Coast Guard statement released Thursday.
Russia and the U.S. are proposing six voluntary two-way routes for vessels transiting the Bering Strait and Bering Sea.
“Located in U.S. and Russian Federation territorial waters off the coasts of Alaska and the Chukotskiy Peninsula, the routes are being recommended to help ships avoid the numerous shoals, reefs and islands outside the routes and to reduce the potential for marine casualties and environmental disasters,” according to Thursday’s announcement.
The two nations have submitted their route proposals to the International Maritime Organization for consideration.
It’s a situation worth mentioning here in Ketchikan — a maritime community with proven ship maintenence, repair and manufacturing capabilities.
We are a distance from the Arctic, but a portion of the increased commercial and recreational vessel traffic that now is and will be transiting to and from the Arctic passes by this region. That means potential opportunity for Ketchikan.
The First City area has a solid history of making good use of economic opportunities. It appears that a great one might just be sailing this way.