Our Thanks to the US Coast Guard and
The International Ice Patrol
U. S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol Once Again Remembers Those Lost on Titanic
On a cold but sunny April 15th over the treacherous iceberg invested waters of the North Atlantic the men and women of U. S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina and the International Ice Patrol once again paused to remember the 1500 plus souls lost with the RMS Titanic. Ice Reconnaissance
Detachment (ICERECDET) #5 deployed from Elizabeth City on 14 April 2002. After a brief stop in Groton, Connecticut to pick up the "Ice Picks" from the International Ice Patrol
the C-130 long-range maritime patrol aircraft headed for St. John’s, Newfoundland for nine days of iceberg hunting. In addition to its primary job of finding the icebergs that might threaten the North Atlantic shipping lanes the ICERECDET’s first ice reconnaissance sortie on April 15th included the
somber but important task of holding the Ice Patrol’s annual memorial service for those lost with Titanic. A dramatic plunge of bouquets of flowers into the icy, forbidding waters some 300 feet below concluded the ceremony. The Titanic Historical Society has been an active participant on the wreath
drop for 30 years now. They have consistently provided wreaths, memoriams and taken part in past onboard ceremonies. The Ice Patrol, White Star Line Restaurant in Westerly, Rhode Island, and the Titanic Historical Society purchased the flowers for this year’s memorial. The
presence of several large icebergs served to make the ceremony an even greater reminder to the men and women of the Ice Patrol of the importance of their constant vigil.
The exact date of the first memorial ceremony conducted by the Ice Patrol in not known. From information contained in the Ice Patrol’s annual reports we know for certain that it has been conducted annually since at least 1923. Prior to the introduction of long-range patrol aircraft after WWII, the ceremony
was conducted on the fantail of the Coast Guard cutters assigned to International Ice Patrol duties.
The U. S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol traces its roots directly to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. Established by the first Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention in 1914, the International Ice Patrol continues to operate today under the regulations set forth in SOLAS by
the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the federal statutes codified in Title 46, Section 738a. The International Ice Patrol is funded by 17 nations signatory to the SOLAS agreement. In short, the Ice Patrol’s mission is to monitor the movement of icebergs and
oceanographic conditions in the Grand Banks region of the North Atlantic Ocean and warn the transatlantic mariner of iceberg dangers. While this charge may sound simple, it requires a litany of tasks to accomplish. These tasks include: the periodic searching of nearly 500,000 square miles of ocean;
an in-depth understanding of the dynamic weather and ocean currents on the Grand Banks; monitoring and predicting the movements of thousands of icebergs; continuous operation of a sophisticated computer model known as the Berg Analysis and Prediction System (BAPS); transmission of warnings and ice charts
to ships at sea in a host of different formats; and nearly daily cooperation with over 30 organizations and agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe. A U. S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area command, the International Ice Patrol has a crew of 16 and is based in Groton, CT. The iceberg reconnaissance
portion of the mission is accomplished using HC-130H long-range surveillance aircraft based in Elizabeth City, NC. The C-130s used for ice patrol are equipped with the AN/APS 135 side-looking
and AN/APS 137 forward-looking airborne radar’s. In addition to all mission coordination and management of the deployed iceberg reconnaissance missions over the Grand Banks, the International Ice Patrol maintains an operations center in Groton, monitoring North Atlantic vessel traffic, tracking the
iceberg population/distribution, and distributing the IIP’s ice warnings and ice products to the mariners at sea.
The U. S. Coast Guard International Ice Patrol traces its roots directly to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. The exact date of the first memorial ceremony conducted by the Ice Patrol in not known but it has been conducted annually since at least 1923. The presence of several large icebergs
served to make this year's ceremony an even greater reminder to the men and women of the Ice Patrol of the importance of their constant vigil.
While icebergs are a constant navigational hazard in the Arctic, the cold Labrador Current carries some of them south to the vicinity of the Grand Banks and into the great circle shipping lanes between Europe and the major ports of the United States and Canada. Vessels transversing this area try to
make their voyage as short and as economical as possible. Therefore, ships in the vicinity of the "limit of all known ice" normally will pass just to the south of this boundary. Vessels passing through Ice Patrol's published ice limit, run the risk of a collision with an iceberg and insurance
concerns. In this area the Labrador Current meets the warm Gulf Stream and the temperature differences between the two water masses of up to 20 degrees Celsius, produces dense fog. The combination of icebergs, fog, severe storms, fishing vessels and busy transatlantic shipping lanes makes this area
one of the most dangerous. This fact was grimly brought to light with the sinking of the R.M.S. TITANIC in 1912, after it struck an iceberg and approximately 1517 souls perished.