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Rutter’s Ice Navigator tools will provide Crystal Serenity with safe cruising in the Canadian Arctic


sigma S6 Ice Navigator SampleThe luxury cruise vessel Crystal Serenity by Crystal Cruises, even if not an ice-class, will be the first large cruise ship to sail the Northwest Passage. A 32-day long voyage in August this year will bring her from Alaska to New York, passing by the Canadian Arctic all through 900 miles of waterways across glaciers and fjords. To ensure safety onboard to the 1,050 guests and a 650 crew, the ship will be equipped with Rutter’s sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance and Ice Navigator System. The Antarctic research ship Ernest Shackleton, which will also be equipped with a Rutter system, will escort Crystal Serenity, so to provide detailed detection of ice presences in advance.
Ice does not necessarily generate the continuous radar signature required for detection by standard radar systems. Rutter’system employs horizontally polarized radar technology to improve the traditional radar capabilities and to provide enhanced small target detection for both first-year and multi-year sea ice, and for floating hazards.
Brian Johnston, Rutter’s Strategic Business Development Manager, so described the addition of the Sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance system: “The sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance system provides all of the high resolution sea ice imagery and drifting small target detection (glacial ice and other floating hazards) as the sigma S6 Ice Navigator, but the Small Target Surveillance system has an additional advanced target tracker mode for detection and tracking of fast and highly maneuverable targets. Think of it more as a security radar mode for targets like Rigid Inflatable Boats, Fast Rescue Crafts, etc. that can pose both navigational hazards as well as security concerns. Additionally, the sigma S6 Small Target Surveillance can provide excellent detection performance for Persons In Water Search and Rescue operations should it be necessary.”
Master mariner and ice navigator Captain David (Duke) Snider, CEO of Martech Polar Consulting, explained why it was so important for the Crystal Serenity to install such an ice detector system:  “What we are talking about is the ability to spot multi-year ice and glacial ice. The two of them, by the nature of their physical composition, are somewhat similar. Multi-year ice is leached out. It’s salt, and it’s become harder and denser. That’s why we don’t want to come into contact with ice older than two years old. It’s as dense as glacial ice that’s been there for hundreds of thousands of years.”
About smaller pieces of ice, which could be particularly difficult to spot in rougher seas, he commented: “There’s no doubt they can be dangerous, but they don’t appear out of nowhere,” he says. “They tend to be in the vicinity of icebergs. Icebergs are a bit like comets. They leave a trail of ‘debris’ behind them, so if the iceberg is being carried southward by ocean currents, you know its north side is likely to have growlers and bergy bits.” Snider believes the risk of ice damage to the vessel is low to moderate on this particular voyage.