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Missing charts increases danger in Arctic

Missing charts increases danger in Arctic

01-02-2018 14:15:00


In this modern world where shipping traffic in Greenland waters keeps increasing, it is obviously dangerous that we are lacking information about depths of the oceans, shards and grounds, consultancy firm HARNVIG Arctic & Maritime states.

"An important prerequisite for safe sailing anywhere in the world is having good charts. There are numerous places along the coasts of Greenland that are not measured where there are only so-called radar lines, meaning routes where a ship has previously sailed, and thus registered the depths along the lines of the route, "says Klaus Harnvig from the consultancy company HARNVIG Arctic & Maritime.

If a ships sails just a few hundred meters out of course, the ship will end up in totally unchartered waters with a high risk of groundbreaking. The presence of sea ice and icebergs means that sailors have to change their course in order to avoid sailing of the ice, thus they are forced away from the "safe" routes.

The previously used methods for measuring of the oceans have meant that coastlines, islands and cuttings are not located in "the right places" relative to the GPS-based electronic charts. Therefore, it is crucial to get the coast measured and thus get the correct nautical chart, where one can trust that the ship's GPS position is correctly positioned in relation to the coast.

In this modern world where shipping traffic in Greenland waters keeps increasing, it is obviously dangerous that we are lacking information about depths of the oceans, shards and grounds. Especially when the majority of the ships sailing the routes are very large cruise ships with thousands of passengers on board.

The modern, highly efficient seawater measuring in Greenland was more or less interrupted during nineties and the 2000's, but was to restart in 2009. Due to the relocation of the Geodata Board in 2015, the projects, which were already delayed at the time was stopped. According to Klaus Harnvig, it is presently uncertain when the project is starting back up.


"The consequence of this is that the numerous cruise ships that sail in Greenland during the summer months must live with the fact that there is an increased risk of groundbreaking. This in itself is unacceptable and when looking further at the lacking SAR preparedness, which is unable to evacuate the many guests on board, it appears incomprehensible that the necessary steps are not taken to bring the nautical chart and the subsequent preparation of new charts to the next level, "says Klaus Harnvig.

Source: Søfartens Ledere / Maritime Denmark


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