1999 Science-of-Opportunity Cruise on USCGC Polar Star

Date: 
24 November 1998

The UNOLS Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (AICC) is
an NSF/USCG-sanctioned committee chaired by Jim Swift, Scripps Institution
of Oceanography. The purpose of the AICC is to provide Arctic marine
science projects with planning and scheduling assistance and to facilitate
communications between scientists, science funders, and facility providers.

Particular concerns of this committee at present are the USCG icebreakers
Polar Sea, Polar Star, and HEALY. Additional information about the AICC is
available on the UNOLS web site <http://www.gso.uri.edu/unols/unols.html>or
the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States <http://www.arcus.org>.

The US Coast Guard recently informed the AICC that one of the Polar-class
icebreakers is expected to be available for funded science missions during
a 30-60 day period in mid-summer 1999 (July can be used as a target for
advance planning purposes). There is also the possibility for a limited
number (10-20) of berths available for scientists on a
Science-Of-Opportunity (SOO) cruise on USCGC POLAR STAR during part of that
same time, should no funded missions - which have higher priority -
materialize.

The anticipated operating area for the cruise will be thewestern Arctic.
There is no funding being made available by the USCG tosupport SOO research
other than the opportunity for ship time.Science-of-Opportunity is defined
as follows:

Following extensive yard andmaintenance periods, Coast Guard icebreakers
may proceed to the Arctic to conduct machinery trials, to test equipment,
and to conduct training, in conditions which duplicate normal operating
conditions. The Coast Guard calls these missions "shakedowns".

During these shakedowns, the USCG allows scientists to deploy with the
icebreaker to take advantage of research opportunities on a
not-to-interfere basis with machinery and equipment trials, or other
training missions taking place. Scientists who deploy on shakedown missions
are not charged for icebreaker use under the current multi-agency
reimbursement agreement for dedicated scienc emissions.

It is important to note that while science will be accommodated whenever
appropriate, science is not the first priority of an SOO mission, and in
fact, there is no guarantee that any science will be accomplished during
these missions. Despite these important and ongoing caveats, the AICC would
be remiss if we did not also note community satisfaction with the 1996 and
1998 SOO missions, during which most science objectives were in fact
accomplished by the Coast Guard.

For the 1999 cruise, the Coast Guard requests that scientists who are
interested in participating submit an Icebreaker Science-of-Opportunity
Request Form, available through the UNOLS web site noted above. Requests
submitted by the deadline of 4 January 1999 will be assessed by the AICC for
suitability, including geographic region, seasonality, number of berths,
compatibility of scientific programs and personnel responsibilities, USCG
equipment requests, and laboratory requirements.

Highly specific time and geographic requirements cannot be guaranteed.
Arrangements for sample-only requests will be the responsibility of the
investigators. Investigators without sea experience, or who contemplate
sending participants without sea experience, are very strongly urged by the
AICC to obtain relevant training, and to discuss plans and recommendations
with an experienced participant well ahead of time. The USCG will select the
participants for the cruise. The AICC's role isto facilitate communication
between the scientific community and the USCG, including assembling
information about potential Science Of Opportunity investigations and
assessing them for suitability.

Investigators are reminded that they may not use submission of an SOO
request for AICC assessment to leverage agency science support.