QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 20, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Following last week's tragic accident involving the helicopter operating from the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence has curtailed its 2013 science expedition on board the vessel in order to assist the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) with their plans to recover the CCG Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm Bo-105 helicopter from M'Clure Strait. Most of the 36 ArcticNet scientists who were on board were flown back south yesterday. Some ArcticNet experts have remained onboard to help with the search and recovery operation.
"The decision to curtail the science expedition will allow most of the scientists to return home and find comfort among friends and family, and for the team staying onboard to concentrate their efforts on the recovery of the helicopter" said Dr. Martin Fortier, Executive Director of ArcticNet and Board member of the Amundsen program. "Everyone associated with ArcticNet and the Amundsen program are cooperating fully with the CCG and TSB, and we are allocating our best technical and material resources towards the success of this operation."
The Amundsen departed its homeport of Quebec City on 26 July 2013 for an 82-d ArcticNet scientific expedition to the Canadian Arctic. After a successful campaign of sampling operations in the Labrador Sea, northern Baffin Bay and the Northwest Passage, the science team was on its way to the Beaufort Sea when the crash occurred on the early evening of 09 September on day 46 of the expedition. The CCG helicopter was performing an ice reconnaissance mission in M'Clure Strait, north of Banks Island, Northwest Territories at the time of the accident.
The ArcticNet team was to conduct research in the Beaufort Sea until 29 September before heading back to Quebec City. ArcticNet's 2013 Schools on Board outreach program, which was to join the vessel as it made the transit back through the Northwest Passage, has also been cancelled.
"The scientific campaign was shortened by about 3 weeks. One of the priorities was to recover five oceanographic moorings that were deployed in the Beaufort Sea in 2012." said Dr. Fortier. "We received confirmation yesterday that the moorings will be recuperated by our colleagues on the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Other sampling operations that could not be completed this year will be a priority for our 2014 expedition".
ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada, brings together scientists and managers in the natural, human health and social sciences with their partners from Inuit organizations, northern communities, federal and provincial agencies and the private sector to study the impacts of climate change and modernization in the coastal Canadian Arctic. Over 145 ArcticNet researchers from 30 Canadian Universities, and 20 federal and provincial agencies and departments collaborate with research teams in Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.
Image with caption: "The scientific research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen has been supporting ArcticNet research since 2003. (CNW Group/ArcticNet)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130920_C9200_PHOTO_EN_31105.jpg