The U.S. polar marine science community has long declared the need for an arctic research vessel dedicated to advancing the study of northern ice-dominated seas. Planning for such a vessel began 2 decades ago, but competition for funding has prevented construction. A new design program is underway, and it shows promise of opening up exciting possibilities for new research initiatives in arctic marine science.
With its latest design, the Arctic Research Vessel (ARV) has grown to a size and capability that will make it the first U.S. academic research vessel able to provide access to the Arctic Ocean. This ship would open a vast arena for new studies in the least known of the world's seas. These studies promise to rank high in national priority because of the importance of the Arctic Ocean as a source of data relating to global climate change. Other issues that demand attention in the Arctic include its contributions to the world's heat budget, the climate history buried in its sediments, pollution monitoring, and the influence of arctic conditions on marine renewable resources.