Friday, September 21, 2007

Russians Plant Flag on North Pole Seabed.

In the Arctic, unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. America is not the lead dog in the Arctic rush for resources. The Russians are not just coming; they have come and gone. We are breathing their exhaust fumes and eating their dust. America does not have an Arctic Policy, and we have not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty.
America might be a big dog, but in the Arctic she has lost her bite. So far, she does not have much of a bark either. I am not kicking the dog when I say that the Russians are leading in the rush for resources in the Arctic.
America, through the U S Coast Guard is suffering from "whipped dog syndrome". When the Coast Guard's diving program was shelved because of the death of Lt. Jessica Hill on a routine familiarization dive, it handicapped the American Arctic program, such as it was. It was not much more than research, and Search and Rescue; but, it had direction and purpose. For want of senior male officer leadership, a female diver was lost, and a national dive program was disabled, America's ability to compete for the natural resources in the Arctic was dealt a death blow, and the citizens of America will not get an equal chance to claim any of the oil or gas beneath the Arctic.
Now, rather than playing a leading role, the Coast Guard is planning to build a seasonal search and rescue station at Point Barrow on the North Slope. Directing ship traffic and Search and Rescue on a seasonal basis is unseemly of the purported Big Dog. America is the only Hyper-power on the planet, but she is foundering and losing her way.
The Coast Guard is an old dog in Alaska. Can this old dog be taught any new tricks? When Seward's Folley was purchased from Russia, it was a Coast Guard ship (Revenue Cutter BEAR, skippered by Captain Mike Healy) that was sent to scout and to survey the territory. The Alaska Purchase by the United States from the Russian Empire occurred in 1867 at the behest of Secretary of State William Seward. Now, almost a century and a half later, we are still doing nothing more than taking surveys. We are using newer and more high tech equipment, but our manpower resources have not kept pace with the technology. We are sending our daughters to do a man's work in a cold,harsh, and cruel environment. When our daughters do not measure up, we blame their shortcomings on them. We blamed Lt Jessica Hill for her own death, absolved all the senior male leaders, and scrapped the diving program.
Who will plant the American flag on the Arctic sea bed? Or, who will devise a new criteria for asserting ownership rights to the natural resources lying in disputed international waters? It is said that in International Law, might makes right. Even without massive military resources, more and more smaller nations are acquiring the technology to exploit the vast resources that are available in the ocean depths. America claims a 3 mile Territorial Sea, a 12 mile Contiguous Zone, and a 200 mile Economic Resource Zone. Lt Jessica Hill's 20 foot dive would not have made it out into the deep water where the Big Boys are playing; and they are playing for "keeps".
With our emphasis on more female cadets and officers, and our increased responsibilities since 9/11, can the Coast Guard still run with the pack? Are we going to simply hide behind a dead female diver's skirts? Or, are we going to get back into the water? Building a seasonal rescue station at Point Barrow is nice, but we must be prepared to do more than rescue a few fat cats who can afford to party in the Arctic. The average working stiff with a gas gozzling SUV trying to make ends meet buying $3.50 per gallon gas, can expect nothing from a national energy program content to play catch-up with the Russians, Canadians, Finns, and Danes. Whose interests are being served by America's primary National Arctic Resourse Agency without a diving program, with three icebreakers used to survey the terrian, planning only a part-time seasonal presence in the hottest real estate market on the planet? Admiral, that dog won't hunt!


The Russian diver who planted the Russian flag in the Arctic sea bed at the North Pole come to Los Angeles on 27 September 2007. He is Doctor Anatoly M. Sagalevich. He was the first human to visit the Arctic floor of the ocean at 14,000' at the North Pole. He come to speak at the Los Angeles Adventurers Club.

Bob Silver, #728, and Ralph White, #942, and Friends at the Annual Adventurers Club "Night Of High Adventure 2006"

Accompanied by Ralph White, Adventurers Club Member #942, he led the expeditions to the ocean floor to be the first human eyes to see the wreck of RMS Titanic, the Bismarck, and the discovery of the "black smoker" vents that proved the proposal of plate tectonics. He has made hundreds of dives to the ocean floor all over the world and has taken the Mir-1 and Mir-2 to depths reaching 20,000'. Anatoly has published a book that details the evolution of deep sea submersibles and his involvement in it. The greatly anticipated English version will be coming out in 2008.
Doctor Anatoly Mikhailovich Sagalevitch (Member #1021) is a member of the Los Angeles Adventurers Club. As Head of the Laboratory of Manned Submersibles, he directs all of the deep dive submersibles of the P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology. He has participated in over 30 World Wide Expeditions and has more than 2000 hours in various research submersibles. He piloted five dives to the Wreck of the RMS TITANIC, and he was one of the six men to set The Deep Diving Submersible RENDEZVOUS World's Record at 17,768 feet in 1989. He has written six books and 200 Scientific Articles.

It can only happen once in all of history:
on Thursday, August 2, 2007, at 8 o’clock GMT, Anatoly Sagalevitch, piloting the Russian deep submersible MIR-1, was the first human to reach the ocean bottom at the geographic North Pole, where he planted a titanium flag of the Russian Federation. With him inside MIR-1, he carried an official Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles Expedition Flag, which he will return to the Club with appropriate endorsements in due course.

It all started back in 2005 – at least officially. Anatoly has long been the brains and the muscle behind the PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, the guys who own and operate the world’s deepest diving submersibles, MIR-1 and MIR-2. This ownership includes, of course the submersibles’ mothership, RV Akademik Keldysh, a fleet of support craft and equipment, and a host of people to maintain and operate them.

The Shirshov Institute has been Anatoly’s baby since before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and since that time, he has built it into one of the world’s premier oceanographic research institutes.

RV Keldysh is one of the largest oceanographic support vessels in the World. She is equipped with a range of laboratories, and is the only vessel in the world capable of supporting the operation of two deep-diving submersibles simultaneously. Keldysh can accommodate a total of 130 personnel, and up to 35 of these berths are allocated to visiting scientists, filmmakers or other charter groups.

The world of research oceanography is not always capable of utilizing the total available oceanographic support systems. When these systems lie idle, they lose money, and in the world of research, that is nothing but bad.

During the late 1990s, Australian Adventurer Mike McDowell developed "High Adventure – High-Dollar Travel Expeditions," taking well-heeled clients up Everest, and renting Russian icebreakers in the off season to take adventurers to the North Pole – for a price. Club member Ralph White met McDowell, and introduced him to Anatoly and his research fleet. They reasoned that well-heeled paying customers could underwrite operations during slack periods. This would allow Anatoly to keep his ships, submersibles, support equipment, and personnel in peak condition, and even underwrite some of the oceanographic research. White suggested Titanic, and the rest, he says, "is history."

Together with McDowell and Club member Don Walsh, pilot of the Trieste on its historic dive to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, Anatoly created Deep Ocean Expeditions (DOE) in 2005. They set out to take paying passengers to the Titanic, to the Bismark, to the undersea volcanos near the Azores, and to the ocean bottom at the North Pole.

On June 28, 2006, DOE formally announced the launch of the Deep Frontier Expedition project, an ambitious and exciting multi-year, multi-ocean expedition aboard the RV Keldysh, and utilizing the twin Mir submersibles.

Project Manager Rob McCallum said: "The combination of a large oceanographic vessel with the unique abilities the twin extreme depth submersibles and a world class side-scan sonar system, will provide us with an amazing exploration capability. The Deep Frontier Expedition will involve private adventurers, scientists, filmmakers and those interested in conducting operations at extreme depth. It’s a unique opportunity for anyone wishing to accomplish something in the deep ocean."

The Deep Frontier Expedition was designed to be a multi-year voyage that will see RV Keldysh visit five oceans. Her anticipated voyage plan would see her undertake a range of exciting projects in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Southern Oceans. According to DOE Project scientist Peter Batson: "The expedition will see Keldysh accomplish many dives in areas previously unseen by humans, so I guess it’s inevitable that we will see things that have never been seen before. It’s a chance to gather data about the deep sea that can be used to help us better understand and manage the oceans that surround us."

RV Keldysh was expected to visit hydrothermal vents, seamounts, historical shipwrecks, sites of special geological and biological interest and to conduct some of the first submersible dives in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. Her twin Mir submersibles, each capable of reaching depths of 20,000 feet, were expected to conduct hundreds of dives during the course of the voyage, many of them aided by a powerful sonar system made available by John Cameron that will be deployed to search large areas of the ocean.

On April 16, 2006, the well-laid plans of DOE came against the political will of the Russian Parliament, since the only way they could reach the North Pole with the ships and support equipment that they needed was with the immediate support of the icebreaker RV Akademik Fedorov and the nuclear powered icebreaker NS Rossiya. And guess who controlled these vessels?

The 2006 plans were put on hold while Anatoly worked out an acceptable compromise with none other than his old colleague, Dr. Artur Chilingarov, Hero of the Soviet Union, and Deputy Chairman of the Third State Duma – the Russian Parliament, a position similar to the U.S. Speaker of the House.

Under the terms of this compromise, Dr. Chilingarov (who is a well-known and respected polar scientist) would be the titular head of the expedition, and would be a passenger on MIR-1 along with fellow Duma member Vladimir Gruzdev. Furthermore, the focus of the expedition was changed so that it became a quest to place the Russian flag on the ocean bottom at the North Pole, and to stake out a territorial claim to this "land." Presumably, the reason for this effort was to fortify Russia’s claim to a substantial portion of the Arctic ocean, because of vast reserves of oil and gas that probably lie there.
By early 2007, the new or Real North Pole Expedition was set to happen. Scandinavian business tycoon Frederik Paulson and New Zealand marine biologist Peter Batson joined DOE president McDowell, and cofounder Anatoly. The expedition was billed as Russia’s contribution to the 2007/2008 International Polar Year.

The expedition officially departed Murmansk on July 24, 2007. RV Keldysh developed engine problems off Franz Joseph Land in the Berents Sea, but the crew fixed the problem in time for Anatoly and team to test-dive both MIRs successfully in the frigid ice-filled arctic water off Franz Joseph Land. Along the way to the Pole, the Russian scientists mapped part of the Lomonosov ridge, a 1,240-mile underwater mountain range that crosses the polar region. The ridge was discovered by the Soviets in 1948 and named after a famed 18th-century Russian scientist, Mikhail Lomonosov.

In December 2001, Moscow claimed that the ridge was an extension of the Eurasian continent, and therefore part of Russia’s continental shelf under international law. The U.N. rejected Moscow’s application, citing lack of evidence, but Russia is set to resubmit it in 2009. Dr. Chilingarov’s hope was that these measurements would help.

Denmark hopes to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Danish territory of Greenland, not Russia. Canada, meanwhile, plans to spend $7 billion to build and operate up to eight Arctic patrol ships in a bid to help protect its sovereignty.

The U.S. Congress is considering an $8.7 billion budget reauthorization bill for the U.S. Coast Guard that includes $72.96 million to operate and maintain the nation’s three existing polar icebreakers. The bill also authorizes the Coast Guard to construct two new vessels.

Ten crew members flew ahead by helicopter to the Pole on Thursday, to scout out the best way for Fedorov and Rossiya to clear out a section of ice for the dives. Once RV Keldysh arrived, it was not long before the MIRs were ready for launch.

At 5:30 GMT, MIR-1 commenced her trip to the bottom, piloted by Anatoly, and carrying Dr. Chilingarov and Gruzdev. MIR-2 followed shortly thereafter, piloted by Genya Cherniaev with McDowell and Paulsen as passengers.

Two and a half hours later, at 8:00 GMT, Anatoly planted the flag on the seabed, and thirty minutes later MIR-2 arrived at the bottom. Both submersibles spent about forty minutes on the bottom, taking samples and generally exploring, before returning to the surface some nine and a half hours after they departed.

"It was difficult," said Dr. Chilingarov.

"We are happy and relived to be safely back aboard," said McDowell when MIR-2 returned more than an hour after MIR-1.

Russia was jubilant – it’s been a long dry spell for the Russian spirit of exploration. President Putin personally greeted the explorers upon their return.

"It’s like putting a flag on the moon," said Sergei Balyasnikov, a spokesman for Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute. "For the first time in history, humans have reached the ocean floor under the North Pole."

With a swagger not unlike a typical American, Muscovite Yevgeny Gaziyev told a reporter, "Russia is a great power which needs resources, territories."

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey, said the Russian government was entitled to submit its claim "as members of the Law of the Sea convention." But he dismissed the significance of planting a flag in the North Pole seabed.

Peter Mackay, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, dismissed the event as "just a show."

"Look," he said, "this isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say ‘We’re claiming this territory."’

Canada’s own claims to the Arctic, he said, were "well-established."

In the coming weeks, Russian expedition researchers plan to set up an Arctic research camp near the pole, called a "drift station" because it will drift with the shifting ice pack in the polar sea, to carry out long-range climate studies. RV Akademik Fedorov is expected to remain in the region until mid-September.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said, "We wish the Russian scientists a safe expedition."



"Members and Guests at the Annual Night of High Adventure"


Adventurer Glen Heggstad has recently returned from a multiyear, solo motorcycle ride over some of the toughest terrain on earth. This former international martial competitor has created a dazzling multimedia show chronicling his experiences through fifty-seven developing nations beginning from a harrowing ordeal his first month on the road in South America when taken prisoner by Colombian Marxist rebels.

Two years later, riding a borrowed motorcycle from Southern California BMW dealers, he continued his incredible odyssey across Russia from Vladivostok, Siberia and into Mongolia. A two thousand kilometer off-road loop over the Gobi Desert was followed by a sprint across Eastern Europe directly into the Middle East via Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. After a weeklong interview with Israeli military commanders, Glen was even granted a special permit to enter Gaza via Erez Checkpoint, on foot and alone.

Denied visas for Iran and Saudi Arabia, air-freighting from Amman was the only way to reach Karachi and a zigzag to Islamabad for an uneasy confrontation at the Afghan border. India was as dazzling as ever and led to a ride through Nepal up to the Tibetan border. Rolling from Bangkok, the path snaked down across Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and into Indonesia.

Fed and sheltered by friendly Dayak tribes of Kalimantan, Glen set a world’s record as the first man to completely loop Borneo on two wheels. The journey continued from Medan, Sumatra, north into Banda Ache shortly after the devastating Tsunami. Island-hopping through Java into Bali and onto Cape Town, made for a grand finale of traversing Africa up to Ethiopia.

More information is available at Glen’s book about the South American leg, Two Wheels Through Terror, is in fourth printing and soon to be seen as a National Geographic Channel docu-drama. This will be his twentieth and final show for 2007.

Russian divers go deeper, but Academy men stay in longer

Judge London Steverson
London Eugene Livingston Steverson
 (born March 13, 1947) was one of the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968. Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), he was charged with desegregating the Coast Guard Academy by recruiting minority candidates. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988 and in 1990 was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration.

Early Life and Education
Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson. At the age of 5 he was enrolled in the E. A. Harrold elementary school in a segregated school system. He later attended the all black Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating valedictorian.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948,[1] but the service academies were lagging in officer recruiting. President Kennedy specifically challenged the United States Coast Guard Academy to tender appointments to Black high school students. London Steverson was one of the Black student to be offered such an appointment, and when he accepted the opportunity to be part of the class of 1968, he became the second African American to enter the previously all-white military academy. On June 4, 1968 Steverson graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a BS degree in Engineering and a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1974, while still a member of the Coast Guard, Steverson entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University and graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.

USCG Assignments.
Steverson's first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 he reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier [2] (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy, and served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. He traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station. During the 1969 patrol the CGC Glacier responded to an international distress call from the Argentine icebreaker General SanMartin, which they freed.
He received another military assignment from 1970 to 1972 in Juneau, Alaska as a Search and Rescue Officer. Before being certified as an Operations Duty Officer, it was necessary to become thoroughly familiar with the geography and topography of the Alaskan remote sites. Along with his office mate, Ltjg Herbert Claiborne "Bertie" Pell, the son of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, Steverson was sent on a familiarization tour of Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force bases. The bases visited were Base Kodiak, Base Adak Island, and Attu Island, in the Aleutian Islands.[3]
Steverson was the Duty Officer on September 4, 1971 when an emergency call was received that an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 airline passenger plane was overdue at Juneau airport. This was a Saturday and the weather was foggy with drizzling rain. Visibility was less than one-quarter mile. The 727 was en route to Seattle, Washington from Anchorage, Alaska with a scheduled stop in Juneau. There were 109 people on board and there were no survivors. Steverson received the initial alert message and began the coordination of the search and rescue effort. In a matter of hours the wreckage from the plane, with no survivors, was located on the side of a mountain about five miles from the airport. For several weeks the body parts were collected and reassembled in a staging area in the National Guard Armory only a few blocks from the Search and Rescue Center where Steverson first received the distress broadcast.[4]. Later a full investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was equipment failure.[5]
Another noteworthy item is Steverson's involvement as an Operations Officer during the seizure of two Russian fishing vessels, the Kolevan and the Lamut for violating an international agreement prohibiting foreign vessels from fishing in United States territorial waters. The initial attempts at seizing the Russian vessels almost precipitated an international incident when the Russian vessels refused to proceed to a U. S. port, and instead sailed toward the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russian MIG fighter planes were scrambled, as well as American fighter planes from Elmendorf Air Force Base before the Russian vessels changed course and steamed back

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Blogger ichbinalj said...

Russian divers go deeper, but Academy men stay in l o n g e r.

5:44 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Placing a ceramic flag and a titanium base anchor on the floor of the North Pole and claiming territorial rights to the North Pole, takes me back to those anxious days of Sputnik and Uri Gagarin when the USA and Russia were locked in a space race. Even though the Russians were first in the early days of space exploration, it was the USA who put a man on the moon. Looking back, except for national pride, that turned out to be a race for space rocks and moon rocks. No nation has yet to claim national sovereignty of the moon. It is still free of ownership.
The race for the Arctic is different. We are not racing to claim moon rocks. The nations laying claim to the Arctic seabed are staking their claims on the anticipated vast mineral resources of the Arctic. This is more like the San Francisco Gold Rush of 1849. MIR-I and MIR-II have blazed the trail. Now, where is ALNIV? MIR claims to be able to reach 99 percent of the oceans' depths. ALVIN, operated by the US Navy and Woods Hole, only claims to be able to reach 63 percent of the global ocean floor.
ALVIN is the world's oldest research submersible. Is she any match for the new kids on the block, MIR-I and MIR-II? Let's hpoe so. The future of America's energy resources may hang in the balance.

9:20 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Canada will patrol the icy Northwest Passage with at least 6 new Canadian Navy Ships. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on 9 July 2007 that there is an urgent need for Canada to assert national sovereignty over the Arctic waters. He also plans to build a deepwater port to fuel, supply, and repair the new ships. This has already sharpened the dispute with the USA over the territorial claims to the Arctic seabed that is estimated to contain 25 percent ot the world's untapped oil and natural gas. The USA still insists that the area is international territory. Russia, Finland, Norway, and Canada intend to challenge that assertion. This is a far cry from the spirit of cooperation and fellowship that I experienced at the South Pole in the 60s and 70s. Could the claims of national sovereignty of the South Pole be far behind?

9:30 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

10/07/2007. The Day.
New London's Scott Borgerson is at the center of policy making on the future of the Arctic as global warming opens the sea lanes.
The United States, Borgerson said, must catch up with the other nations and make itself a player in the Arctic. It has fallen behind by failing to ratify the Law of the Sea treaty — a document it helped write — that establishes the international mechanism for a country to make claims on undersea territory that is part of its continental shelf. That is the first step toward making and contesting claims to shipping routes and natural resources, and working out cooperative agreements for environmental protection.

“It's in the U.S.'s hard-core realistic interests to take this up,” said Borgerson, whose last post in the Coast Guard was at the Coast Guard Academy, as professor of political geography, foreign policy and maritime studies and director of its Institute for Leadership. “But at the moment, we have very minimal leadership on this issue.”

Borgerson's new position gives him a platform to promote increased knowledge and better understanding among the public and policymakers about this realm of disappearing ice, shallow seas, remote islands and rich untapped fishing, mineral, oil and gas resources. He sees himself as a bridge between the scientific and environmental issues being raised about the Arctic, and the sovereignty questions, pushing for Congress and the State Department to convene an international Arctic summit.

2:19 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Scott Borgerson of New London finds himself in a very opportune place on the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is, the “Arctic guy.” The prestigious Manhattan-based think tank hired the 32-year-old former Coast Guard lieutenant as an international affairs fellow specializing in the Arctic. The frigid, watery region at the top of the world has suddenly become one of the hottest topics in international relations, due to the dramatic changes happening there with climate change.

“The Arctic has never been more on the world's radar screen,” said Borgerson, who in recent months has published op-ed articles in The New York Times, Houston Chronicle and International Herald Tribune on the issue. He's been interviewed for articles in Harper's, and most recently, the Seattle Times, and quoted on National Public Radio and PBS segments about the Arctic. Fox News interviewed him a few days ago. A German television crew traveled to New London to tape a segment with Borgerson, using The Lighthouse Inn as a makeshift studio.

The astoundingly rapid rate of icepack melt in the Arctic, revealed in recent scientific reports, is providing the most extreme evidence of climate change and serving as a harbinger of its geopolitical implications. All that puts Borgerson at the center of the economic, diplomatic and environmental issues that are emerging. As the thawing Arctic, the world's smallest ocean, becomes accessible to shipping, mining and drilling for the

first time, it has become the subject of attention and conflicting sovereignty claims from the countries that surround it as never before. Borgerson, in his new position, believes U.S. policymakers have left this country far behind the other nations with a stake in the Arctic.

The Arctic, he said, could be a test case for how the world deals with the effects of global warming. It could choose the path of diplomacy, restraint, environmental responsibility and mutual cooperation, or let the conflict play itself out to ends that are likely to yield some short-term gains and do much long-term damage.

“No one wins if this becomes a Wild West up there,” he said.

2:26 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

This summer Russian submariners planted the country's flag on submerged land it says is part of its continental shelf, and Canada is disputing that the fabled Northwest Passage — the shortcut shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans predicted to be sufficiently ice free in 10 to 15 years — is an international strait. There's talk of Canadian military bases on its Arctic islands, and that the Canadians might charge tolls to traverse the Northwest Passage. The route would shave hundreds of miles off existing routes between the oceans. The eastern route over Russia could be open on a regular basis even sooner.

Meanwhile Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland are jousting for their own piece of the Arctic Ocean, while the United States falls behind in asserting its rights through its ownership of the Alaskan coast. And with starving polar bears as their poster child, scientists are sounding alarms about fragile Arctic ecosystems at risk from the upheavals wrought by climate change and the hazards of a greater human presence there. Just last week, Adm. Thad Allen, chief of the Coast Guard, told a meeting of U.S. and foreign naval officers that the U.S. needs to update its Arctic policy and ramp up the meager Coast Guard resources devoted to the region.

The United States, Borgerson said, must catch up with the other nations and make itself a player in the Arctic.

2:28 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

So how does a native of rural Missouri who'd never been on a ship until he entered the Coast Guard Academy at age 18 (and won't make his first trip to the Arctic until next spring, aboard a Russian icebreaker) become the go-to guy on the affairs of this remote ocean of extremes?

“Timing is everything,” he explained.

His path to “Arctic expert” — a description he admittedly isn't quite comfortable with yet, acknowledging he still has much to learn — started in 2005, when he was teaching at the academy and working toward his doctorate in U.S. maritime history and foreign policy at Tufts University. For one of his class assignments, his professor asked him to examine the foreign policy issues regarding the Arctic. One of the courses he had taught at the academy was Coast Guard history, so he knew the Coast Guard had been the first U.S. military presence in Alaska, that it had run icebreakers through the Arctic and has what he calls a “geriatric” fleet of just four icebreakers and little to no regular presence there.

At a time when global warming hadn't yet taken on the urgency and widespread concern it currently has, Borgerson began the research project by asking himself, “What if climate change is real, and what if the shipping lanes through the Arctic open up?”

The more he read and talked to experts, the more convinced he became that global warming was having enormous geopolitical ramifications in the Arctic that needed attention. He turned in the paper, earned an “A” and went on to the next topic. A few months later, debates began about funding for a major modernization program for Coast Guard ships and other equipment. Borgerson, with what he learned about the Arctic still fresh in his mind, became frustrated when he learned that the program, called Deepwater, included no funding for icebreakers and other equipment he was certain the Coast Guard would be need in the new world opening up in the Arctic.

2:30 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Unable to sleep one night, he recalled, he sat at his computer and fired off an opinion piece about the Arctic and sent it to The New York Times, his first attempt at getting published there. The piece, titled “Breaking the Ice Up North,” argued for the United States to accept the reality of global warming, develop an Arctic policy to account for it and invest in icebreakers and other equipment for the Coast Guard.

“American foreign policy in the Arctic has been largely adrift since the cold war,” he wrote. “But this region is growing more and more important, and we need to pay attention lest this sea change pass us by.”

The article's publication, Borgerson recalled, won him instant attention, not all of it good. Officials in the Bush administration were incensed that a mere Coast Guard lieutenant would have the temerity to make foreign policy pronouncements.

“I was threatened with a court martial,” Borgerson recalled.

Ultimately, tempers cooled and he wasn't disciplined, but the episode made it clear to him that if he wanted to speak his mind about policy questions, he would need to do it outside the Coast Guard. Eventually, that led him to leave the service for his position with the council, though he remains a strong voice advocating for what he calls “the little service that could,” and is grateful for the opportunities the Coast Guard gave him to learn about navigation, shipping and other issues first-hand. He shares his knowledge about navigation and shipping in frequent speaking invitations to shipping industry groups, and in a consulting company called Rhumb Line LLC he helped found with a fellow Tufts graduate.

After graduating the academy in 1997, he served aboard a Coast Guard ship that did mainly drug interdiction in the Caribbean, then commanded a patrol vessel doing fisheries regulation enforcement in the Louisiana bayou. Now in the rarified atmosphere of the council, he has become an academic with the rare real-world background.

“I like to get my hands dirty,” he said, “but I also love ideas and scholarship.”

2:31 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Peter K said: Outstanding, with an attitude toward global perspective as clear as his, perhaps some of those nay-sayers in environmental decision making will listen rather than continue to chart a sinking course toward disaster. As for the issue of possible court martial over such an elementary First Amendment exercise, perhaps the military has lost someone far better than those who claim to "protect and serve".
Pete K.

2:34 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

JTHM wrote: I must say he's in a position to become a very, very rich man, good for him, he obviously deserves it. Global warming in the coming decades will become the veritable pot "O" gold for enterprizing people such a Al Gore and policy makers such as this man. Thankfully from what I've heard Mr.Borgerson is not so indoctrinated in that "Man is the enemy of the world crowd" and believes that natural cycles occur and have for centuries we all now this but it gets lost in debate somehow. To be threatened with a Court Marshall is way out of line and I applaud Mr. Borgerson for sticking to his guns. Do you realize the earth has warmed 1 degree in the last 100 years,this is scary enough without having to worry about dissenters being rounded up and persecuted.

2:35 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

10/11/2007 in The New York SUN, Nicholas Wapshott reported, America is on a collision course with its close ally and northern neighbor, Canada, over who has access to the Northwest Passage, which has become open to sea traffic. The passage became fully clear of ice for the first time this summer because of record melting.

The prospect of large numbers of merchant ships using its short route between Europe and the East has set off a diplomatic row. Canada claims the passage as its own; America, backed by the Europeans and others, says it is open sea and therefore a freely navigable international waterway.

The Northwest Passage has been the Holy Grail of merchant shipping for centuries and the subject of endless fearsome expeditions determined to find a short maritime route between Europe and the valuable spice and silk markets of India and the East.

2:49 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The latest satellite reports from the European Space Agency, published last month, show that for the first time since such records began, in 1978, the passage is navigable and likely to become increasingly accessible if climate change continues to warm the earth. Use of the passage will shorten the journey between Asia and Europe by about 6,000 miles.

The sovereignty of this valuable stretch of water therefore has become the object of intense diplomatic speculation.

Canada contends that because ships using the passage must pass through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which are internal Canadian waters, it is entitled to control, regulate, and tax the expected surge in traffic. America and the European Union, however, say the passage is an international strait and that all foreign ships have the right of "transit passage."

2:50 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

America asserted its right to pass through the Northwest Passage in 1969 by dispatching the oil tanker Manhattan and in 1985 by sending the icebreaker the Polar Sea to test the waterway, in both instances offending the Canadian prime ministers of the day by failing to ask their permission to sail. The Canadians, however, are taking steps this week to assert their own rights to the passage.

"Our view is that it's our territorial waters and that we govern it accordingly," the head of the Canadian coast guard, George DaPont, told the BBC. "Obviously the Americans and some European countries have different views. I assume at some point in time they'll get settled, but we're pretty confident that they're Canadian territorial waters and that we should be regulating and asserting our control over them as we would over any other part of our territorial water.

2:51 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

In response to the new circumstances, the Canadian government on Monday ordered a Canadian coast guard icebreaker laden with scientists, the Amundsen, to make a detailed survey of the route. The ship is named after the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, an Honorary Member of the Los Angeles Adventurers Club and the first person to travel the passage in 1905, who made the journey in a wooden sailboat.

Prime Minister Harper also announced in July the commissioning of six new Canadian naval vessels with icebreaking hulls to increase the number of patrols of the passage and the Arctic Sea. And he has ordered the building of a new deepwater port and a military base in the Arctic north to defend Canada's national interests.

"Canada has taken its sovereignty too lightly for too long. This government has put a big emphasis on reinforcing, on strengthening our sovereignty in the Arctic," Mr. Harper said.

2:53 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The opening of the passage is not the only thing troubling the Canadians about the effect of climate change on their territory. In August, Doctor Anatoly Sagalovitch, an Honorary Member of the Los Angeles Adventurers Club, piloting the MIR-1, a Russian submarine planted a flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean 14,000 feet beneath the North Pole, in a prelude to claiming Russian sovereignty over the underwater territory.

The value of natural resources underneath the Arctic would dwarf even the lucrative levies the Canadians are seeking to impose on commercial trade through the Northwest Passage. A recent American study suggested that the forbidding underwater terrain might bear as much as a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

2:56 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The pullback in summer ice has caused the U. S. Coast Guard,
to plan its first Arctic
operating base, probably near Barrow.
With increasingly long seasons of
open water in the region, the Coast Guard has also
begun discussions with the Russians about controlling
anticipated ship traffic through the Bering Strait,
which until now has been crossed mainly by
ice-breaking research vessels and native seal and
walrus hunters.

The Coast Guard says its base, which would probably be
near the United States’ northernmost town, Barrow,
Alaska, on the North Slope coast, would be seasonal
and would initially have just a helicopter equipped
for cold-weather operations and several small boats.
(NY Times)

5:05 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

And in yet a further kind of new activity abetted by
warming seas, Royal Dutch Shell is preparing for exploratory oil drilling off Alaska’s Arctic coast
beginning next year in 2008.

A new survey by American oceanographers of the seafloor north of Alaska, completed in Sept 2007 aboard the CGC Healy, provides fresh evidence that the United States has much at stake in
the region. The sonar studies found hints that thousands of square miles of additional seafloor could potentially be under American control. That floor
might yield important deposits of oil, gas or minerals in coming decades, government studies have concluded.

Though more surveys will be needed to firm up any American claim, countries have a right to expand their control of seabed resources well beyond the continental shelves bordering their coasts if they can find such sloping extensions. That right is guaranteed by the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty, which,
after years of fights in Congress, the United States appears poised to ratify. The treaty has the support of President Bush, but ratification requires approval
by two-thirds of the Senate.

5:14 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Environmentalists view the Coast Guard’s interest with dismay about what it suggests for the future of a fragile environment, but also with some relief.

“We should be taking a hard look as a nation at what do we need to do to adequately protect the
environment, faced with that kind of massive change in risk,” said Pamela A. Miller, the Arctic coordinator at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, in Fairbanks.
(NY Times)

5:18 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Law of The Sea Convention protects its members' navigation rights in the oceans. During the Nixon Administration, the USA was the lead negotiator on this treaty. That Treaty has been ratified by 155 nations, including Russia and China. The USA is the only super power and UN member to refuse to ratify the Treaty. This Treaty is like the LOTTO; you have to be in it to win it. Come on Congress, let's get hot. Ratify! Ratify!!

2:50 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Cruise Ship Collides with Iceberg in Antarctica.

American tourists in Antarctica rescued after cruise ship hits an iceberg. This is sure to become more common in the Arctic as global warming makes the Northwest Passage more accessible.

More than 150 cruise-ship passengers and crew, 13 of them Americans, took to lifeboats in Antarctic waters early Friday, 23 November 2007, and were rescued after their ship hit an iceberg, Argentine navy and British Coast Guard officials said.

A fist-sized hole was punched in the hull of the M/S Explorer when it struck an object before dawn in frigid waters near the South Shetland Islands and Graham Land, an Antarctic peninsula, the British Coast Guard said.

On calm seas, the passengers and crew were safely moved aboard a Norwegian cruise ship, a representative of Gap Adventures, operator of the tour aboard the M/S Explorer.

"Everyone is safe and accounted for, both the passengers and crew," a Gap representative told The AP.

Gap Adventures representative Marie Ann Macrae said there were 154 people aboard the ship, including 91 passengers from 14 countries. Twenty-three British passengers dominated the list, followed by 17 Dutch, 13 Americans and 10 Canadians.

10:04 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

On 22 November 2007 Russia, supplier of a quarter of Europe's gas, signed a pipeline agreement with Italy today that will give the Kremlin more control over the continent's energy market.

OAO Gazprom, Russia's gas exporter, and Italy's Eni SpA agreed to form the operating company for a 10 billion-euro ($14.8 billion) link from Russia to Europe via the Black Sea. The deal was signed in the Kremlin during Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's visit with President Vladimir Putin, Gazprom said in an e-mailed statement.

2:59 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Gazprom cut deliveries to Ukraine briefly over a price dispute in January 2006, causing shortfalls across Europe. The Russian gas export monopoly threatened to shut off gas to Belarus on Jan. 1 this year in a similar price disagreement.

Eni, Gazprom's single biggest customer in Europe, has imported Russian gas since 1974. The two companies signed a ``strategic partnership agreement'' a year ago to develop projects jointly in Russia and North Africa in return for Gazprom gaining the right to sell gas directly to Italian consumers.

3:01 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

4 Jan 2008. Federal funding has been approved for a number of rural Alaska projects, including financial underpinning for the U.S. Coast Guard's Long Range Navigation system.

Called the LORAN-C, the system provides civil and military air, land and marine users with navigation, location and timing services in Alaska.

Funding continuation was included in the omnibus funding bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush just before Christmas.

Included in that bill was $7.3 million for Coast Guard housing in Cordova .

In addition, a series of the Coast Guard activities are funded by the bill. For instance, the legislation provides $783 million for the Coast Guard Integrated Deepwater Systems program and another $50 million for Coast Guard research and development.

Also within the new law is recommended funding for the Coast Guard's Polar Icebreakers. The ships are operated and maintained by the National Science Foundation.

7:40 PM  

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