It was noon on April 10, 1912, when RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage. Called “unsinkable” by its builders, Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk less than three hours later.
Although a century has passed, the loss of more than 1,500 lives are in the hearts and minds of the men and women at the International Ice Patrol, an organization set up in the wake of the ship’s sinking. Petty Officer 2nd Class Cliffton Hendry is one of the ice patrol’s members, and his ability to enact change continues to lead the way protecting those on the sea.
Working with the international community the ice patrol does everything in their power to prevent such a disaster from ever happening again. Because of their large-scale international mission, their work requires extensive partnerships.
One of the ice patrol’s key partnerships is with the Canadian Ice Service. Looking to enhance their relationship, Hendry visited the ice service’s operations center and observed how they stood the watch. He identified key areas where the two organizations could harmonize their efforts. As a result, Hendry reorganized the way the ice patrol handled incoming iceberg messages.
Reports from the maritime community are extremely important in ensuring the ice patrol’s iceberg reports are accurate. In times where aerial reconnaissance is not possible due to severe weather, the best information comes from vessels already in the area.
Despite the importance of mariner’s observations, Hendry noticed a significant decrease in the number of ice and weather reports coming into their operations center. After investigating, he found an old reporting line no longer being monitored. Hendry fixed the breakdown, thus allowing more reports to come from the maritime community. In fact, 40 percent of last year’s maritime community reports came through Hendry’s corrected reporting line.
“Petty Officer Hendry is an innovative service member who actively identifies processes that could use improvement and then pursues creative alternatives,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jacob Cass, Hendry’s supervisor. “He puts in whatever time is necessary to improve ice patrol’s service to our customers.”
When not streamlining operations at the operations center, Hendry regularly deploys on ice patrol reconnaissance detachments to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Last year, Hendry was part of a groundbreaking crew as he flew on a reconnaissance patrol aboard an HC-144A Ocean Sentry – it was only the second deployment in support of ice patrol on this platform.
Throughout the deployment he assisted in evaluating and documenting the operational capabilities of the airplane, including radar and communications. He recognized a problem with the window observer’s communications, which prompted the purchase of adapters for ice patrol headsets.
In addition, the airplane has a mission system utilizing the Coast Guard’s common operational picture. This system helps the aircrew discriminate between icebergs and small vessels. Hendry assisted in developing procedures to utilize this new information and his keen observations provided valuable lessons learned for future deployments with the Ocean Sentry.
Hendry’s work exemplifies the ice patrol’s core values of partnerships, improvement and commitment. He sets the example for every member of the ice patrol to honor those who lost their lives aboard Titanic by remaining ever vigilant in safeguarding the global maritime community.