Credit: Noé sardet

Extreme icebreaker and floating village

The Amundsen, giant of the seas…

Spending three weeks onboard the CCGS Amundsen in Baffin Bay is a unique experience… The icebreaker’s mission since 2003 is to provide the logistics for scientific campaigns and allow access to the inhospitable waters of the Arctic Ocean. The ship uses its weight (8171 tons ) and thrust to crush the sea ice. It is powered by six diesel engines totaling 15,000 horse power to progress in thick icepacks often exceeding 1 meter. It feels like being constantly in a magnitude 2 earthquake. Many times on this trip I pondered: How can men build such amazing vessels? The design, operation, and navigation are fascinating.

Finding our way through sea ice…

During the transects, trajectories along which measurements and scientific operations are done, several reconnaissance helicopter flights were performed to find the best way through the ice and avoid getting stuck. In this adventure between high water and sea ice, the scientific teams of Green Edge, ArcticNet and The Coast Guards work together to achieve a common goal : Study the phytoplankton bloom in Baffin Bay.

A floating village!

The Amundsen is like a small village, with eighty inhabitants, sort of like a 6-storey building… Moving through inaccessible seas… Through surreal seascapes and ice floes. The ship carries large reserves of food and fuel, to navigate several weeks or even months without being supplied. The Coast Guard crew that accompanies these missions is very efficient, they help deploy all kind of instruments and support science operations, safely and above all in good humor. The meals and the festive atmosphere at the bar made the experience enjoyable despite a hectic work schedule.

Noé Sardet


Leave a Reply