This summer has seen a record number of boats - cruise ships, commercial vessels, military ships, and boats full of scientists - in the Arctic. Aware that the downward trend in ice cover is prompting an increase in boat traffic, the Canadian military decided to rehearse for any possible accidents:
Beginning tomorrow , the army, navy and air force will begin Operation Nanook 08, the latest in a series of manoeuvres designed to boost Canada's Arctic sovereignty and increase the military's ability to respond to emergencies.
Operation Nanook will simulate an outbreak of disease on a cruise ship, a hostage-taking on a cruise ship, a fuel spill and a fire on a Russian cargo ship.
Are the exercises necessary? More than you might think. Apparently the opening of the Northwest Passage is already drawing yachtees tired of the Caribbean:
A total of 26 commercial cruises are planned in the Canadian Arctic this season, a historic high and an increase of four trips over last summer. As well, at least eight private vessels are thought to be sailing in and around the Northwest Passage.
Franklin would be jealous.