First commercial ship sails through Northwest Passage: “I didn’t see one cube of ice”

Desgagnes Transarctik's cargo vessel Camilla Desgagnes is shown in Nanisivik, near Arctic Bay, Nunavut.CBC News reports:

The Canadian Coast Guard has confirmed that in a major first, a commercial ship travelled through the Northwest Passage this fall to deliver supplies to communities in western Nunavut.

The MV Camilla Desgagn©s, owned by Desgagn©s Transarctik Inc., transported cargo from Montreal to the hamlets of Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak in September.

“We did have a commercial cargo vessel that did the first scheduled run from Montreal, up through the eastern Arctic, through the Northwest Passage to deliver cargo to communities in the west,” Brian LeBlanc of the Canadian Coast Guard told CBC News.

“That was the first — that I’m aware of anyway — commercial cargo delivery from the east through the Northwest Passage.”


Don’t worry deniers, delayers, and most conservatives, the CBC isn’t really saying this is a new era. It’s just the same old era, accept, of course, a lot warmer and a lot less icy thanks to human emissions.

For a ship to be able to travel through the Northwest Passage, which has historically been impassable with thick ice, had some wondering if the MV Camilla Desgagn©s is heralding a new era in Arctic shipping.

Louie Kamookak, the director of hamlet housing and public works in Gjoa Haven, said tugboats and barges usually deliver supplies from the west. Residents were surprised to see the MV Camilla Desgagn©s come in from the east, he said.

“Looks like it’s going to be more shipping or ships travelling, with the ice clearing up north of this area,” Kamookak said.

Kamookak said the vessel brought the hamlet some municipal equipment, including a sewage truck. It also provided local co-op stores with supplies.

The hamlet of Gjoa Haven will compare the costs of getting supplies shipped from the west versus the east, in order to see which direction may be cheaper.

Desgagn©s Transarctik used the MV Camilla Desgagn©s because it is a super ice-class vessel, said Waguih Rayes, the general manager of the company’s Arctic division.

Rayes, who was on the vessel during its trip through the Northwest Passage, said the company informed the coast guard, which put an icebreaker on standby.

“They were ready to be there for us if we called them, but I didn’t see one cube of ice,” he said.

“They were informed about our presence [and] they were ready to give us the support needed. However, since there was no ice whatsoever, the service was not needed, we didn’t call for it.”

Rayes said he’s proud to know his company, which is a managing partner of Nunavut Sealink and Supply, is the first to deliver sealift cargo through the fabled Arctic waterway.

He added that the company plans to transport cargo through the Northwest Passage again next fall.

“The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

Thanks to paulm for flagging this.

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14 Responses to First commercial ship sails through Northwest Passage: “I didn’t see one cube of ice”

  1. Bob Wallace says:

    Well, this is definite proof that the earth is cooling and that AlGore is an agent of Satan.

    Now back to my lemon-lime Koolaide….

  2. Will Koroluk says:

    Bob Wallace:
    Unless of course, a stiff wind came up and blew all the ice over the edge–the Earth being flat, as we all know.

  3. Rick says:

    This is all very bad right? – except that the story doesn’t read like a scare story. It more reads like an opportunity and big bright northern future type story. So put this in the Global Warming is good file.

    [JR: I have such a file. It’s circular.]

  4. Bob Wallace says:

    We might want to look at global climate change as something that will be bad for some people from the get-to and as something that will initally be good for some people. Until it gets bad for them, too.

    Live in a used-to-be-ice-bound village and to pay large amounts for having your goods flown in? Transportation is going to improve.

    Of course a couple of billion people are going to moving in with you as places south become unlivable….

    I’m not buring all that much firewood so far this year. Likely to be the trend over years. Of course I’m going to have to get some air conditioning in order to extend my time of living here.

    After that I’ll join others trying to find a livable place far north of here.

  5. Dear Bob Wallace: You won’t be living that long. Read “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas: Downloaded from:
    By the end of the [21st] century, the Earth could be more than 6C hotter than it is today, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We know that would be bad news – but just how bad? How big a rise will it take for the Alps to melt, the oceans to die and desert to conquer Europe and the Americas? Mark Lynas sifted through thousands of scientific papers for his new book on global warming. This is what the research told him…
    Nebraska isn’t at the top of most tourists’ to-do lists. However, this dreary expanse of impossibly flat plains sits in the middle of one of the most productive agricultural systems on Earth. Beef and corn dominate the economy, and the Sand Hills region – where low, grassy hillocks rise up from the flatlands – has some of the best cattle ranching in the whole US. But scratch beneath the grass and you will find, as the name suggests, not soil but sand. These innocuous-looking hills were once desert, part of an immense system of sand dunes that spread across the Great Plains from Texas in the south to the Canadian prairies in the north. Six thousand years ago, when temperatures were about 1C warmer than today in the US, these deserts may have looked much as the Sahara does today. As global warming bites, the western US could once again be plagued by perennial drought – devastating agriculture and driving out human inhabitants on a scale far larger than the 1930s “Dustbowl” exodus.
    [Agriculture ends. Civilization collapses. 99.99% of North Americans die.]

  6. Bob Wallace says:

    Actually I’m not personally concerned about the 21st Century. Odds are pretty high that I won’t be around even at 2050. (I’m working on my 7th decade.)

    I do feel concern for those who are coming along after me. I have very little doubt that if we don’t start making drastic changes, very soon, in the in the way we do business future generations are going to have a very hard time of it.

    (Perhaps you didn’t have your snark detector activated when you read my first post?)

    All that said, I don’t buy in to the “99.99% die-off” thing. There is a lot of land that will open up in North America and northern Europe/Asia. We will likely pack a large percentage of the Earth’s population up there and do some intensive food production to keep everyone fed.

    It wouldn’t be pretty. Better to clean up our act now.

  7. paulm says:

    “Six Degrees” is actually an understatement. Much of the events describe therein will be happening …. are happening now and will be in full swing by a 2-3 degree rise.

    We are all debating what might happen now, but Hansen has proclaimed that we have passed an important threshold – 350 and that means very unpleasant things are going to happen what ever we do from now on in.

  8. Bob Wallace says:

    “Scientists now suggest that even warming of less than 2 degree Celsius might be enough to trigger the loss of Arctic sea ice and the meltdown of the Greeland Ice Sheet,” the WWF said in a statement to accompany the findings.

    “As a result, global sea levels would rise by several metres, threatening tens of millions of people worldwide.”

    It’s only one study, hasn’t been enough time for the climate folks to chew it over. But if it holds….

  9. mauri pelto says:

    Great story, how long until fishing excursions etc. begin in the Arctic? A whole new cruise ship destination too. It is hard to see any action we take, saving the Arctic Sea Ice at this point, though the ice sheets are still an open question.

  10. Bob Wallace says:

    While we’re discussing polar changes comes this news from the other end…

    “Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, the European Space Agency said.”

    “Wilkins is the size of the state of Connecticut or about half the area of Scotland. It is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.”

    “Scientists say the western Antarctic peninsula — the piece of the continent that stretches toward South America — has warmed more than any other place on Earth over the past 50 years, rising by 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit each decade.”

  11. If we were living in ANY AGE but the present, this would be the biggest story in the world.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    Bob Wallace — If Greenalnd just stays as warm as it is now, just that, GIS eventually mostly goes.

  13. David Lewis says:

    Canada’s Prime Minister Harper reacted to projections that the Arctic ocean would become navigable for shipping by commissioning construction of a deep sea port and proclaiming Canada was going to assert sovereignty over the NorthWest Passage. The US has never accepted this: Bush restated that the US position is that it is an international waterway.

    It might be funny to watch two climate deniers fighting over waters made navigable by global warming even as they continue to deny the science, but it hasn’t been, so far.

    Nature 451, 866 (21 February 2008) published an editorial “Science in Retreat” criticizing the Canadian government for its “its manifest disregard for science”, specifically mentioning climate change.

  14. GEJ says:

    Actually, this report is wrong.

    THe first commercial ship to transit the so-called Northwest Passage was the SS Manhattan – an oil tanker, which made the voyage back in (drum roll) 1969.

    Apparently, you guys knowledge of history is as shallow as your knowledge of the world’s climate!