The excerpt below is from an article originally published on WSCH6 and written by Don Carrigan, WCSH. [LINK]
CASTINE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The first training program in the United States for navigating Arctic ice has been developed by Maine Maritime Academy.
Students at MMA just completed the first semester-long class, developed by Capt. Ralph Pundt, a retired merchant marine tanker captain and professor at MMA.
The new program was created at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard as part of a Dept. of Homeland Security grant to the University of Alaska and Maine Maritime.
"The ice is disappearing quickly," says Pundt about Arctic ice that has been steadily retreating as temperatures in that region become warmer.
He says the fabled Northwest Passage, a shortcut from Atlantic to Pacific that was once impossible to navigate, has now become a summer reality. Because sailing that route could dramatically shorten the time for ships to cross from Europe or the east coast of the U.S. to Asia, Pundt and the students say the Coast Guard wants officers in the merchant marine to be trained to handle the Arctic ice.