This fireside chat recap is from Day 7 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week.
FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Coast Guard breaks the ice for smoother shipping lanes
DETAILS: The U.S. Coast Guard has special ships capable of breaking ice in polar regions, clearing lanes for container ships. Their missions also include strategic national security objectives and scientific research. Capt. William Woityra talks about these missions and the logistics behind them.
SPEAKER: William Woityra, commanding officer, Polar Star, U.S. Coast Guard
BIO: A career icebreaker sailor, Woityra has spent more than a decade breaking ice at sea. Prior to assuming command of Polar Star in 2020, he served as the ship’s executive officer on board. Woityra led another icebreaker, the Healy, on five Arctic research missions, including its historic 2015 expedition to the North Pole, the first time an unaccompanied U.S. surface vessel had reached the top of the world. Woityra’s shore assignments include program manager for Coast Guard icebreaking, where he set priorities establishing where, when and why the Coast Guard breaks ice.
KEY QUOTES FROM WILLIAM WOITYRA:
“Russia and China have both staked out expansive interests and are investing heavily in icebreakers and forward operating locations in the Arctic and are trying to wield power and influence in that region. That’s why it’s so critical for the U.S. to invest in that infrastructure and continue to build icebreakers so that we can be part of that discussion, and make sure that our interests, whether commercial or diplomatic, are heeded.”
“As maritime activity in the Arctic continues to grow and the U.S. invests in new infrastructure to execute Coast Guard missions in that region, we’re going to need the people, the experts and the operators who know what they’re doing up there.”
“I first went to the Arctic in 2000 and the ice was challenging. In 2015, the ice conditions had changed markedly: The ice was softer, there was less of it, and it was much thinner. It’s incredible that in the span of a Coast Guard career, it’s possible to see these changes happening.”