(click maps to enlarge)

UPDATE;  BIG MISTAKE!  THOSE ARE NOT SHIPS, THOSE ARE WEATHER BUOYS. (However I am leaving this post up to demonstrate it is possible to admit a mistake without dropping dead.  Also the question remains, and the ship-locating site is cool, and helps you see where the actual icebreakers are.)

Thanks to “Sleepalot” over at the Real Science site for pointing out my error. (Also for pointing out a Russian icebreaker did visit the pole yesterday—see update 3)

Arctic Ships 51fa32e1_2388_0

Here is an interesting map I chanced upon at which is a site which shows the location of nearly all larger ships in the sea.  It am fairly certain this map shows ships, likely icebreakers, churning through the waters between Canada and the pole.  Now look at the “ice concentration” for that area:

Arctic Ice Concentration August 1arcticicennowcast (1)

Those boats are plowing through ice which is at levels of concentration between 90% and 100%

I can recall, back in late February or early March of 1977, watching a lobster-man nudge his boat very gingerly through the slushy ice that filled the area between the wharf and “Pound of Tea Island,” in the salt water of Harraseeket River in South Freeport, Maine. He went back and forth, breaking up the ice so it would flush out with the twelve foot tides, in essence hurrying the breakup of the ice after a long and brutal winter.

Last summer a big arctic storm’s howling winds broke up the ice, and that was said to hasten the melt.

I cannot see why sixteen icebreakers churning about wouldn’t have the same effect.  Anyone else have any ideas? (Or corrections?)

UPDATE 2 — The blogger “sleepalot” has pointed out that FLAO on the map is a weathership that sits in a port.  However he also pointed out OS8154 is a “large sailing ship.”  (If I had a large sailing ship, I’d prefer palm trees.)  This ship has been creeping along the coast:

Arctic sailing boat Aug 1 51fa4460_616d_0

Update 3 — Sleepsalot is doing all my research for me.  He just informed me the huge nuclear-powered Russian Icebreaker, “50 LET POBEDY,” pictured below, is shown by the map, also pictured below, to have visited the North Pole yesterday, and now is returning to Russia. That ought to break up the ice a bit.

Arctic Russian Icebreaker 50_LET_POBEDYArctic Russian Ship Map 51fa48e1_67a2_0




  1. Heheheh. I just found this. Thanks for the credits. Another update may be in order; Canada has 6 icebreakers in the NW passage that don’t report their position on AIS (and so don’t appear on, and similar sites).

    • I’m glad you found out I mentioned your timely advise in my post. Your comments raised the quality of that post greatly. (I can’t recall exactly where you responded; it may have been of Goddard’s site.)

      That post was actually a sort of “filler post,” on a day I had little to say, but felt I needed to say something in order to keep my blog “active.” It was really wonderful how it turned into such a learning experience, and resulted in learning about ship-locating tools which I use to this day.

      It seems odd the Canadian icebreakers don’t appear on the charts. Is their location a sort of classified, military secret?

      I wonder if the ship that picked up the “North Pole Camera” might have been a Canadian Icebreaker. I guessed it was Norway’s “Svalbard” because the silhouetted superstructure matched the final “North Pole Camera” picture, but I also read an old article from around 2007 which stated Canada was thinking of buying ships like the Svalbard. I assume such ships would have a similar superstructure.

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