Climate change is making ever larger areas of the Arctic maritime region accessible for small craft in the fishing, tourism and leisure sectors. However, the Arctic still remains a hazardous region for inadequately prepared mariners. Climate change is altering weather and ice patterns and creating new dangers for all mariners in the region. Growing large vessel activity in the tourism, cargo, mining and oil exploration sectors presents additional hazards to the safe navigation of small craft. There is therefore an urgent need for safety and emergency response training for Arctic mariners. However, while such training is regulated and widely available for large vessel crew, this is not the situation for small craft mariners who find it more difficult to access Arctic-specific training. The EU-funded SMACS Project fills this gap, and makes the Arctic a safer location for small craft maritime activity, with the safety and emergency response training programme specifically developed for small craft mariners.
SMACS – Small Craft Emergency Response and Survival Training for Arctic Conditions – was a collaborative international project under the Northern Periphery Programme (www.northernperiphery.eu) of the EU, supported by the European Regional Development Fund. SMACS started in October 2012 and developed a safety and survival training programme for small-craft Arctic mariners. The SMACS Training Programme is available free of charge to all training providers. Three of the five SMACS partners are engaged in maritime training provision (Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland, Chalmers University in Sweden and MSSTC in Iceland) and two in Arctic Search and Rescue (SSRS and NSSR, the maritime search and rescue organisations of Sweden and Norway respectively). SMACS also has Associated Partners in Greenland, Norway, Faroes and Ireland.
Erik the Red
Erik the Red is a character in the Icelandic sagas who is reputed to have sailed to Greenland and to North America (Vinland). As Erik the Red was one of the first recorded Arctic small-craft mariners, we have selected this 1875 painting by Carl Rasmussen of Erik the Red arriving in Greenland as the emblem of SMACS. Sadly, highlighting the dangers of sailing in Arctic waters, Rasmussen was drowned in 1893 on a voyage home from Greenland when he fell overboard from the brig Peru, apparently while painting at his easel.