A massive iceberg, containing Soviet planes, helicopters, navy personnel and scientists, is worrying and perplexing the Canadian government and Armed Forces.
A massive iceberg, containing Soviet planes, helicopters, navy personnel and scientists, is worrying and perplexing the Canadian government and Armed Forces. Both authorities think the iceberg, which is drifting into the Arctic Ocean about 300 miles from the North Pole, could be intruding into what they call Canada's sphere of influence in the far north. They also suspect the information scientists and military personnel pick up could be used to help Soviet submarines trace their routes under the ice. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation film team recently visited the iceberg.
SYNOPSIS: The Canadians call the iceberg NP 22 -- for North Pole 22. Military sources said it first drifted into the Canadian sector of Arctic Ocean about 18 months ago. These Russian soldiers have previously seen Canadian fighter planes flying over taking-low-level photographs of installations on their frozen domain.
A Canadian defence official asks some questions about the work the estimated 100 men have been doing on the iceberg. The Russians have built a 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) runway and Canadian pilots have spotted up to nine planes and three helicopters parked in full view. The Russians say all their men and equipment are involved in research into the weather, the ice and the Ocean.
Canadian government officials have been mystified and worried, that ice, snow and perhaps concealed fittings might be masking other, more threatening activity. The Soviet commander here told the visitors he did not consider the iceberg was in Canadian waters. And, for unexplained reasons the Canadian government has not clarified this point.
The Canadian remain ambiguous about just how much of the north they consider belongs to them. The film crew's hosts were congenial, offering to give them a tour of their base, to try to show they were not concealing anything suspicious.
The Soviet commander, jokingly suggested that this refrigeration hole could contain rockets.
Earlier, the Canadian government had suggested that some of its scientists should join in research on the iceberg. This would allow Canada to watch both the environment and the Russians. The base commander said the personally would welcome this move. Accepting a Canadian flag, he said he would fly it on the same pole as his national flag, but chose not to say which would have top place.