The nuclear propelled submarine, as a cargo vessel for transport of Arctic crude oil. is discussed as an element of a subsea transport system. The submarineis presented as technically feasible and the paper concludes such a subsea system to be economically competitive with other transport modes for delivery of Northern Alaskan and Canadian Arcticcrudes to North Atlantic and European markets.


The submarine, traditionally a weapon in most of the world is naval arsenals since the turn of the century, has until recent years remained technically obscure and mysterious to the public and business community. Labeled the "silent service" because it was fitting to the tactical and strategic missions of a military submarine, this silence by association seems to have prevaded the designer, shipbuilders and operators.

There is nothing new in the submarine ship concept. Submarines have been built by most of the world 's Navies for years and, unquestionably, the military submarine has reached a high level of engineering performance and is highly efficient forits assigned tasks.

Although several studies considering the application of submarine ship concepts in maritime commercehave been made from time to time, there bas been no commercial attraction to induce development or prototype construction of a submarine cargo ship. It was, and continues to be, true today thatthe greatest commercial incentive for submarine cargo ships is in their use on special routes where surface ships cannot be used or their transits are at low speeds and with extreme difficulty.

Several investigators have demonstrated the technical feasibility of commercial submarine cargovessels. It is interesting that they were all completed between 1957 and 1960.

What was needed to exploit the potential of the subsea transport concepts was a new element inthe environment hostile to the normal surface modes before economic parity or advantages could accrue. Several authors were prophetic in their work in the late 50's, alluding to the possibility that submarine navigation under the Polar Ice Cap and having access to regions (ice cover) not accessible to surface ships might prove advantageous from a commercial viewpoint.


The oil exploration activities in the Arctic Basinare both historical and current. Arctic oil discoveries at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and Atkinson Point, N.W.T. focused a full spectrum of interests and, inparticular, the interest of the marine associatedindustry. To dwell on the hostility of polar regions to man and machines or the problems of marine transport in the Arctic is not appropriate here. What is important to the marine entrepreneur is assessment of the potential for opportunity considering all facets of commercial exploitation in a new and different environment.

Contemplation of transportation activity in the rctic marine environs suggests the following considerations as fundamental:

Economically competitive recovery of this (oil) natural resource and transportation of the oil from the vast seemingly inaccessible ice-bound wasteland of the Arctic r sub-Arctic regions to refinery and marketplace imposes challenges or formidable problems depending on one's point of view.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.