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SS Manhattan's 1969 Voyage

Among the 120 people aboard Manhattan on its 1969 voyage were a number of scientists and researchers. Their mission was to collect information for use in calculating the conditions that a proposed new generation of supertankers might encounter during year-round use of the Northwest Passage. The company needed to know how much engine power and steel would be required for a ship to break through the worst possible ice conditions and still have room for carrying oil. Toward that end, scientists drilled core samples through pack ice as thick as 22 feet to examine such properties as temperature, hardness, and salinity.

During the trip, a symbolic barrel of oil was taken aboard at Prudhoe Bay, AK and the mission declared a success. However, the 55-gallon barrel was the only Arctic crude ever shipped back to the East Coast this way. Plans were abandoned for using the Northwest Passage as a shipping route for Alaskan crude. For while the Northwest Passage was technically possible as a shipping route, its use year-round was deemed unfeasible.


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