MYSTIC, Conn., - The Coast Guard celebrated the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Patrol (IIP) April 26 during their open house event at the Mystic Aquarium where distinguished guests including Congressman Joe Courtney viewed the Titanic exhibit. The IIP was established as a result of one of the most horrifying tragedies at sea with the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.
Nearly 1,500 passengers and ship’s crew perished at sea when the “Unsinkable” Titanic struck an iceberg. Prior to this accident, there was no established notification system to safeguard mariners against the danger of icebergs.
As a result of the Titanic sinking, there emerged a need to patrol the main shipping routes that run near the Great Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, to locate icebergs and warn passing vessels of the potential dangers that lay ahead.
“There is much pride in the prevention side of the Coast Guard,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Abel, Commander, First Coast Guard District. “It’s the rescues that we didn’t have to do and the preventative work that 16 people here in New London, Conn., do to prevent tragedy at sea, a mission that started 100 years ago.”
During the ice season, which spans from February 15 and July 1, members of the IIP coordinate efforts with the Canadian Ice Service to conduct reconnaissance missions off the coast of St. Johns, Newfoundland. These missions consist of using aircraft with specialized sensors and radar along with aerial surveillance for iceberg detection and identification, which the crew monitors and reports back to their operations center in New London. This vital information is used to track the locations of icebergs formed off the coast of Greenland, which is then reported to mariners transiting near the Great Banks.
“Earlier today, I had a chance to recognize the unit with a Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for what these folks have done over the last two years beginning with the the anniversary of the loss of the titanic, but really recognizing quiet professionalism that has gone on for 100 years of safeguarding those at sea,” said Abel.
Abel presented Cmdr. Lisa Mack, commanding officer of the IIP, with the commendation on behalf of her and her crew for their outstanding performance during the past two years, which included the commemoration of the Titanic centennial at the site where the Titanic lay more than 12,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. The IIP crew also modernized processes and transformed service within the North American Ice Service to include iceberg reporting, iceberg outside-the-limit warnings and product distribution and alignment, which greatly improved service to mariners.
To date, no ship that has heeded International Ice Patrol warnings has struck an iceberg. To learn more about the history of the IIP, visit: http://www.uscg.mil/history/articles/IIP_History.asp.