Italian Arctic exploration mission proves a success

Research vessel 'Alliance'

ROME- On Wednesday morning, in front of representatives of the Italian press and of the nation’s foremost research departments, a commission of senior navy officials presented the results of Italy’s most recent scientific mission, ‘High North 17’. The information gathered could open up new trade routes, and help with the fight against global warming. The mission proved to be a great example of internationalism and international cooperation. The vessel used to transport the team of scientists, a 100-meters-long steel boat, was supplied by NATO, and was manned by sailors of the Marina Militare Italiana.

The vessel ‘Alliance’ set sail from Reykjavik (Iceland) on July 11 and, after a cruise through the withering waves of the artic and the Svalbard sea, arrived in Tromsø (Norway) in July 27 with scientific findings to share with the international community.

This study and mapping of artic currents and ice formations will prove useful for the fight against climate change, said the President of the Italian Department of Oceanography Dr. Maria Cristina Pedicchio. The mapping of the Artic sea’s depths revealed the dual nature of the Alliance’s mission: fostering international cooperation and trade.

Missions such as High North 17 will make the Northern seas more navigable and safe, opening new trade routes and trading channels. Italy, admitted only recently as an observer to the Artic Council in 2013, pledged to collaborate in such international operations. Both the Italian Navy officials, such as the Chief of the Italian Defence Staff Claudio Graziano, and the presidents of research departments have expressed the desire to turn this successful mission into the first stepping stone of a long commitment.

‘’This corner of the world will become one of the keystones of the future’’, declared Gen. Graziano, who stressed the Italian Navy’s intention of pursuing an ‘‘Artic Strategy’’ alongside a Mediterranean one. As observed by the General, the discovery of new trade routes has always impacted nations, as exemplified by the ‘’Atlanticization’’ of trade in the 15th Century, which eventually caused the downfall of Italy’s maritime republics.  

The panel presenting the Alliance’s findings made one thing clear: any novel information acquired during the High North 17 mission will be fully disclosed to the benefit of the scientific community.

The Alliance’s exploits proved the complementarity of scientific disciplines as the collaboration of crew members, consisting of a number of specialist form a variety of field such as geology, oceanography, and marine biology, became a testament to the synergic energy of research.

This mission was the first Italian arctic mission in decades, the last being Umberto Nobile’s 1928 mission on board of the airship ‘’Italia’’. July’s mission represented the rekindling of Italy’s proud tradition of oceanic discovery and exploration, as well as a renewed commitment to furthering the scientific frontier of knowledge.