The ship hadn’t yet left Vancouver for the Arctic Circle’s Northwest Passage when the icebreaking began — with a round of “introduce yourself to the others.”
We’d already met a few crew members of the MSV Nordica icebreaker the day before, including Capt. Jyri Viljanen, a master mariner from Finland who has been going to sea for 39 years.
This month’s expedition through the Northwest Passage, with an Associated Press team and international researchers aboard, is Viljanen’s first transit through the passage.
Helping guide the ship safely through the treacherous waters is ice navigator Capt. David “Duke” Snider, a Canadian Coast Guard veteran with 35 years at sea and current president of The Nautical Institute for maritime professionals.
Others aboard include Cmdr. Bill Woityra, the ice operations division chief for the U.S. Coast Guard; marine consultant Nigel Greenwood, a retired Canadian admiral in charge of maritime forces in the Pacific; and Capt. Victor Gronmyr, a serving officer in the Canadian Coast Guard.
Two members of Canada’s indigenous Inuit community, Maatiusi Manning and David Kullualik, are on board to gain “ship time” as part of their merchant marine training. Manning and Kullualik hope eventually to work on an Inuit-owned fishing ship off Canada’s northeast coast.
Six scientists are accompanying the mission. Some, such as Daria Gritsenko of the University of Helsinki, are there to document the state of the ice and marine infrastructure along the Northwest Passage. Others, such as Scott Joblin of the Australian National University, will examine the legal and political issues arising from Arctic exploration and development.
The Nordica also has an experienced field biologist, Paula van Weller, on board. Van Weller is documenting wildlife encounters, including any sightings of polar bears, whales or seals.
Follow a team of AP journalists as they travel through the Arctic Circle’s fabled Northwest Passage on AP News: https://www.apnews.com/tag/NewArctic
Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Portraits of an icebreaker crew, researchers, by Frank Jordans.
Photos by David Goldman