Alaska’s (Hidden) Frontier

By Chris Hartman

Terrestrial Alaska has been widely explored and economically understood for over a century. While we have a handle on this, we know little about what lies underneath the surface of sounds, seas, gulfs and oceans.

Regulated by U.S. law, the Exclusive Economic Zone extends 200 miles from shore, providing citizens access to use these waters, the seafloor and subterranean of the seafloor. This makes Alaskan waters one of the most comprehensive, dynamic and economically viable platforms to work with. The platform includes 45,000 miles of sophisticated shoreline, two oceans, three seas and the Gulf of Alaska. It also has the world’s largest submarine canyon with depths to 24,000 feet, extreme tidal ranges with 16 knot currents known as tidal racing, ice-free ocean, frozen ocean and a seasonal mix of both.
Alaska is 53 miles from Russia, it boarders Canada, connects to the Arctic and is the northern gateway for Pacific Ocean maritime traffic. This makes Alaska an ongoing political, strategic and economic importance for the U.S. and international ocean commerce development. Its location makes the U.S. one of eight Arctic nations, putting the Nation in an unprecedented situation due to the rapidly developing commercial opportunities resulting from changing Arctic conditions.
Arctic shipping lanes are opening for new fuel saving intercontinental routes, and new areas for exploration and development are becoming accessible. This year the first Arctic passenger crossing from Seward to New York will take place, and the first subsea fiber cable is being installed across the Arctic, connecting Tokyo to London with fiber branching off to remote Alaskan coastal towns. Aquaculture protein development will be another near term focus for commercial food sources as nutrients shift with seawater changes.
Never before have we seen what is happening now, yet Alaskans for the most part are only able to observe, unable to capture, prosper and utilize this platform. Why? There is no coordinated effort in place to help Alaskans harness prosperity in their backyard. Global Ocean Center (GOC) aims to change this, serving to bring world focus to oceanic initiatives, thereby elevating Alaska as a leader in ocean enterprise and innovation. NGOs, governments, universities and entrepreneurs will all be integral to GOC functions.
As the founder of GOC, Chris Hartman (the author) created this concept by utilizing decades of worldwide oceanic experiences ranging from energy development, medicinal discovery to working with government agencies. Hartman sees major opportunity for Alaskans and has dedicated a year in Alaska educating businesses, politicians, universities and citizens about the exceptional opportunities they could have available to them right now. “The community is encouraged and understands the potential of this project. The next step is securing proper capital to launch concept into fruition. Our goal is to provide opportunity to Alaskans from a base of operations in Alaska, easily accessible to all people who want to connect and collaborate with the development of ongoing local, national and international projects. GOC fulfills client needs by removing their roadblocks via application of innovative solutions.”
Alaskan polar air cargo and polar maritime services will be utilized to support GOC functions. Utilization will also include international marine to rail transportation, connected by deepwater ice-free ports. These rail lines go to Anchorage and the city of Fairbanks which has direct road access to the Arctic Ocean. Furthermore, the marine highway system, commercial fishing vessels, maritime service companies and other oceanic related entities may find economic inclusion within certain projects.
Future employment opportunities for ocean engineers will consist of teams with backgrounds in nanotechnology, aerospace, software, mechanical, electrical, acoustical, industrial, geological, chemical and applied. Employees will work in teams to provide solutions for the following types of projects;
  • Provide 650 million people with clean water. The ocean can supply these people the water they need. An abundant supply of clean water strengthens people’s health and prosperity. Building and installing subsea desalination systems in the most needed areas will make up for this shortage.
  • Discover medicinal cures from ocean specimens. There is no major effort to discover new cures for the most lethal and debilitating diseases, even though past subsea discoveries have proven to successfully cure diseases. The challenge is finding and collecting approximately 5lbs of the unknown specimen to determine its medicinal viability. Once the organic chemistry is understood from the specimen it can then be infinitely replicated without ever having to collect more of that specimen.
  • Clean the five ocean gyres. Most discarded buoyant trash in the ocean is collected within these giant gyres. There is no effective and efficient reclamation method to separate this trash from the oceans. Furthermore, there is an estimated 3 million shipwrecks and chemical dumps on the seafloor needing hazardous material handling and extraction solutions.
  • Build an online ocean community with a unique database and a proprietary taxonomy for organizing oceanic data and tailoring it for users as diverse as energy explorers, shipping, commercial fishing, scientists, military and recreational use. (Define “community”: As a resource center for companies, universities, governments, entrepreneurs and scientists currently fractured from one another, while in the same pond.) Replace the fractured model with a deeply interactive data and search tool in real-time. Secure critical information for these entities to make more effective and reliable forecasts.
  • Make a detailed map of the ocean floor. The technology is now available to thoroughly map the ocean floor in HD3D. We have little to no idea what our planet looks like underwater or what it’s made of. The goal is to determine the most viable and expeditious way to map the ocean floor in detail, then complete the task.
  • Design and manufacture submarines for humans to be transported and functionally interact with the oceans at any depth. The first published prescription for a human occupied submarine was over 435 years ago. After four centuries of development there is still no utilitarian sub that can safely, dependably and economically transport humans through liquid mediums, while providing adequate endurance and tools.
  • Design and manufacture disposable autonomous underwater smart vehicles with configurable sizes and interchanging capabilities to handle multiple devices. The vehicle will adaptable to a variety of missions, self-charge and be programmable when submerged.
  • Transfer tidal forces into usable energy. Capture this consistent and reliable energy source, providing feasible energy for end-users. Prove apparatus, design it for replication and offer it to markets where tides will cost effectively provide and distribute energy.
  • Commercialize emerging opportunities from Arctic ice melting that is opening new ocean territory and changing protein development environments. Assess this rapidly developing opportunity and define the best commercial practices for the Arctic Ocean. Implement policy, technology and services that will be ready for the increase of near future demands.
  • Test the limits of engineering capabilities by attempting to build an untethered, full ocean depth haptic humanoid diver. Modern-day haptic systems have limitations because of the restraining tether. The goal is to remove the tether, allowing for full operating freedom at any depth.
The overarching goal is to develop GOC - Alaska into a comprehensive ocean enterprise company that will have the capability to capitalize and privatize the $24 trillion ocean economy. Hartman is seeking investment from U.S. based financiers to build this center.
The Author
Chris Hartman’s career experience includes working internationally for industrial oceanic companies, scientific and government agencies. Hartman commercially operates submergence vehicles and consults for said groups.
(As published in the September 2016 edition or Marine Technology Reporter)
The February 2022 eMag edition of Marine Technology Reporter looks inside the world of oceanography.
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