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Cracks force Navy to shutter Arctic ice camp

Mar. 24, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The Navy off the remainder of Ice Exercise 2014 after the ice under the temporary Ice Camp Nautilus began to show signs of instability.
The Navy off the remainder of Ice Exercise 2014 after the ice under the temporary Ice Camp Nautilus began to show signs of instability. (Navy)
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This March 7 photo shows supplies for construction of Ice Camp Nautilus. (Navy)

Alarming ice cracks spelled an early end to a Navy camp built on an Arctic ice floe north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the Navy said Monday.

The camp was being used by U.S., British and Canadian researchers to monitor two U.S. attack submarines transiting under the ice.

Vice Adm. Michael Connor, the head of Naval Submarine Forces, called off the remainder of Ice Exercise 2014 after the ice under the temporary Ice Camp Nautilus began to show signs of instability. The Navy blamed large shifts in wind direction for the the cracks in the ice floe.

“These cracks prevented the use of several airfields used for transporting personnel and equipment to the ice camp,” the Navy said in a press release Monday. “The rapidly changing conditions of the ice, along with extremely low temperatures and poor visibility have hampered helicopter operations and made sustaining the runway and camp too risky.”

Nobody at the camp has been injured, the release said.

The exercise, which involved the attack submarines Hampton and New Mexico, was scheduled to run through March 30.

Crews began building Ice Camp Nautilus in early March, according to the Arctic Sub Lab’s official Facebook page. An update on March 4 stated that crews checked the thickness of the ice prior to building the camp site..

The Navy’s last ice camp was constructed in 2011. It housed about 27 researchers and lasted about two weeks.

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