Commencing in July 2018, the Northwest Passage Project will embark on a four and a half week expedition into the Passage. Expedition participants will be sailing through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on an east to west journey. Departing from Pond Inlet, the ship will travel north via eastern Lancaster Sound to Beechey Island, south through Franklin Straight to Todd Island, and across Queen Maud Gulf to Cambridge Bay, with numerous stops along the way.
Finding a northwest passage, a northern water route shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific, has long been the obsessive quest of explorers and navies. For over 400 years, more than one hundred ships carrying thousands of mariners sailed into the Arctic to probe its waters and trek its shores. A warming climate and subsequent ice melting has opened up the Northwest Passage during the summer months, and it is profoundly changing the Arctic. There is unprecedented global interest in this once impenetrable region and its pristine environment.
The Northwest Passage Project is a collaborative effort between the University of Rhode Island (URI), Inner Space Center (ISC), and the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), the film company, David Clark, Inc., and several other collaborators, including six U.S. universities that are classified as Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
Along with the ship’s crew, there will be scientists, education professionals, and students sailing through the Northwest Passage. On each of the two expedition legs, there will be 18 students aboard—six high school students, nine undergraduate students, and three graduate students. The students will receive science instruction as the ship is underway, gain navigation and sailing skills, participate in live broadcasts from sea, and work alongside ocean scientists as they conduct Arctic research.
Onboard participants will also include the ship’s crew, ISC education and operations staff, scientists, historians, journalists, and members of the David Clark Inc. film production team.