Ever since the Titanic, there has always been some element of risk when navigating ships through icebergs. Through the years, scientists have attempted to come up with ways of eliminating or highlighting icebergs so passing ships will be alerted to their danger. Since icebergs move around, and are commonly veiled by thick fog or rough seas, they can often be masked from view or a ship’s radar.
After trying to paint icebergs, plant radio transmitters on them, and even detonating explosives on them, they still posed a high risk to ships that have to eventually pass that route. Instead of eliminating or highlighting anymore, scientists have decided to implement an early warning system and this has worked well ever since (knock on wood).
The IIP deploys a radar-equipped Hercules aircraft that collates reports from passing ships and satellites. According to a member of the International Ice Patrol (IIP) Michael Hicks, after that, not a single ship captain that heeded warnings from the Hercules aircraft was hit by an iceberg. Although there will always be space satellite technology, the downfall of that here is that they are unable to differentiate between ships and smaller icebergs and will pose a smaller but still significant amount of risk.
The last fatality that was iceberg-related was the Hans Hedtoft in 1959. The ship had 95 people on board. The latest incident was the cruise ship MV Explorer which sank after hitting an iceberg off the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip. All 100 passengers and 54 crew were saved. According to Hicks, the reason why the incident did not escalate is because of the good weather at the time as well as a ship that happened to be passing.
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