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Shipping expert predicts Titanic-level disaster in Arctic

In an opinion essay with the ominous headline, “Titanic Threats Still Lurk Today,” marine shipping expert Albert Buixadé Farré warns that a dramatic increase in Arctic shipping and cruise tourism, coupled with melting sea ice, makes a disaster of comparable proportions to the legendary RMS Titanic sinking a 21st century danger.

“With sea ice melting, Arctic shipping is on the rise, driven by profit, unencumbered by strict regulations and unsupported by critical infrastructure. Like that fateful iceberg a century ago, there are more dangers today lurking in the Arctic than meet the eye,” Farré said.

“Cruise ships today travel far beyond the choppy waters of the North Atlantic, where more than 1,500 souls met their doom. Heightened seasonal shrinking of the ice cap since the early 2000s propels cruise ships and tourists farther north than ever before,” he adds. “Just three years ago Costa Concordia capsized and sank in the tranquil and mature Mediterranean; far worse can be expected in the unforgiving and underdeveloped polar frontier.”

The piece by Farré, the lead author of “Commercial Arctic Shipping Through the Northeast Passage: Routes, Resources, Governance, Technology, and Infrastructure” (Polar Geography, 2014), is published in The Maritime Executive.