The International Ice Patrol, formed in 1913 after the RMS Titanic disaster, is responsible for monitoring iceberg danger near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and providing the location of ice floes to the maritime community.
For the past twenty years, C-130 Hercules aircraft based out of Elizabeth City, NC have been the chief air support for these missions. Patrols generally last 5 to 7 hours and cover an average expanse of 30,000 square miles. These patrols are used to monitor icebergs threatening the primary shipping routes between Europe and North America, relaying data back to the International Ice Patrol (IIP) Operations Center in Groton, Connecticut.
Collected data is fed into a computer model along with ocean currents and wind reports. The model then predicts the drift of icebergs, which are updated every 12 hours and relayed to maritime traffic as "the limit of all known ice." "Ice Bulletins" and radio facsimile charts of the area are broadcasted via World Wide Web and radio stations throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe to advise vessels transiting the area of known iceberg hazards.
Since its inception in 1913, International Ice Patrol has conducted operations each season, with the exception of the World Wars, and has amassed an enviable safety record. Not a single loss of life or property has ever been reported in the vicinity of the Grand Banks, due to collision with an iceberg.