As a step toward improving marine safety in the Bering Strait region, Inuit Services, a Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) subsidiary, will be placing four commercial mooring systems in Port Clarence, the only deep water port of refuge in the American Arctic. Placement of the systems will occur in July of 2016, and the moorings will be available for industry, government, and private use soon thereafter.
BSNC acquired the mooring systems from Shell Alaska, which had deployed them north of the Bering Strait in support of its exploration efforts in the Chukchi and Beaufort basins. Each system is composed of three anchors, and will be marked by a large buoy. Permits are currently being processed by the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The approximate locations of the mooring sites are shown on the accompanying map. These points may vary slightly given specific conditions (water depth, prevailing winds, etc.) at the time of placement. Details regarding mooring capacity, allowed vessels, and contact information will be provided at a later date.
BSNC will soon be receiving title to lands at Point Spencer, the uplands forming the western boundary of Port Clarence, a large harbor recently been identified by the Committee on Marine Transportation Safety as a significant, potential port of refuge (report can be found here). The need to develop infrastructure and facilities in a manner that improves marine safety while protecting local communities is central to BSNC’s efforts at Port Clarence. The mooring systems, once in place, will provide a level of security for vessels transiting the waters of Bering Strait.