cover of book

Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil: The Epic Voyage of the SS Manhattan through the Northwest Passage
by Ross Coen
University of Alaska Press, 2012
eISBN: 978-1-60223-170-2 | Paper: 978-1-60223-169-6
Library of Congress Classification HE595.P4C64 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 387.245

In 1969, an icebreaking tanker, the SS Manhattan, was commissioned by Humble Oil to transit the Northwest Passage in order to test the logistical and economic feasibility of an all-marine transportation system for Alaska North Slope crude oil. Proposed as an alternative to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the Manhattan made two voyages to the North American Arctic and collected volumes of scientific data on ice conditions and the behavior of ships in ice. Although the Manhattan successfully navigated the Northwest Passage—closing a five-hundred-year chapter of Arctic exploration by becoming the first commercial vessel to do so—the expedition ultimately demonstrated the impracticality of moving crude oil using icebreaking ships.

Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil details this historic voyage, establishing its significant impact on the future of marine traffic and resource development in the Arctic and setting the stage for the current oil crisis.

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