Like I’m sure many of you did, I took some time to pause and reflect on the tragedy of the Titanic 100 years ago off the coast of Newfoundland. There are so many stories about the Titanic that we are all familiar with. There are those about the ship’s encounter with the iceberg, the more than 1,500 victims of the disaster, and the countless accounts of bravery both during and after the accident. Then there are many more untold accounts none of us will ever know.
These stories, like the Titanic itself, were lost to the icy waters of the North Atlantic more than a century ago. In the midst of these stories we know all too well and those we will never hear, there are others that have slipped from our collective memories of the Titanic over the years, only to be revived on the occasion of the disaster’s 100th anniversary. The history of the International Ice Patrol is one such story.
In the months following the Titanic’s sinking, the international community came together to create the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Ice Patrol in an effort to improve maritime safety. The mission of the Ice Patrol was simple – keep shipping lanes open by directing vessels around large icebergs like the one that sank the Titanic. Today, the United States Coast Guard operates the Ice Patrol with the cooperation and funding from 13 nations, including Canada. Thanks to their efforts, not a single ship heeding Ice Patrol warnings has struck an iceberg since it was established in 1914. Our partnership with the Canadian Ice Service and the Canadian Coast Guard is a model of international cooperation and helps ensure that critical maritime safety issues are addressed.
The United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Ice Patrol paid tribute to the Titanic victims on April 14 during a special ceremony over the site where the Titanic sank 100 years earlier. Together, our servicemen and women scattered more than 1.5 million rose petals over the area marking the victims’ final resting place. The solemn event was another reminder of all we lost that tragic day in 1912. Our unified response then and now was a reminder of all that we have gained.