Mission Arctic is attempting a record-breaking expedition
Ropes with Dyneema® help pull Mission Arctic through extreme conditions
To help the team successfully and safely navigate through some of the earth's most treacherous terrain, Mission Arctic chose to use ropes manufactured by Atlantic Braids and made with Dyneema®. Since the expedition began, the ropes have not shown any sign of wear or tear, despite continuous, intense use. The unmatched qualities of Dyneema® make it not just the best choice, but the only choice for this mission.
An unprecedented expedition into the Arctic
Mission Arctic is a never-before attempted eco-expedition to research and discover unexplored stretches and newly exposed waterways of our rapidly changing Arctic environment. As the Arctic melts, new areas have become accessible for the first time in human history, giving the Mission Arctic team a chance to reveal secrets of Earth that have been hidden for millennia.
A chilling array of challenges
In the Arctic, an exploration team must be 100% independent and self-sustainable as the area has no stores to replace broken equipment or access to mail. Everything on board must meet its need and surpass its expected uses, especially when it comes to supplies that help the team survive the difficult conditions and make the voyage as safe as possible. To that end, Expedition Leader Nick Peissel reached out to rope manufacturer Atlantic Braids about using its rope products for boat rigging, anchoring, docking, lowering instrumentation into the ocean, and even mountaineering.
Five points of performance for rope excellence
Since Mission Arctic needs every piece of equipment to maintain durability even after months of heavy use, it judged ropes across five key points of performance:
1. Dependability: Mission Arctic knew that if a halyard, deck line, anchor, or mooring line broke, it would spell certain disaster for the expedition. Furthermore, the team would be tying up to floating ice with sharp corners for days at a time. Wear and tear simply were not options.
2. Quality: For an expedition of this magnitude, high quality equipment is essential. Mission Arctic sought lines that were rated well above their anticipated load.
3. Manageability: With so much equipment and limited storage space, Mission Arctic needed lines that would fit in existing pulleys and deck hardware.
4. Weight: Mission Arctic also needed lines to be lightweight, able to float, and not absorb water so they do not freeze. With pack ice surrounding the boat when anchored or moored, the team needed to be able to see exactly where the lines lie to anticipate if the ice floating around the boat will catch on them.
5. Multi-functionality: Lastly, Mission Arctic needed lines that could take on multiple purposes, such as mooring lines that could also act as spare shrouds or forestay/backstay—without compromising strength.
While some lines offered one or two of these qualities, Mission Arctic never expected there were lines that could meet all its unique needs.
The Dyneema® difference
To aid in the Mission Arctic expedition, Atlantic Braids recommended products ranging from soft shackles and rigging lines to a floating high-strength safety line—all made with Dyneema®. The inherent properties of Dyneema® make it stronger than steel, yet seven times lighter. Additionally, ropes made with Dyneema® are more durable, UV and moisture resistant, and show extraordinary performance even in the world’s most extreme conditions.
With the mission now underway, Nick and his crew are thoroughly impressed by the multipurpose performance of the ropes made with Dyneema®: “We are blown away by the performance and many applications we could use them for.” Despite the heavy strains and freezing weather, the ropes made with Dyneema® remain light, strong, and flexible.
Small ropes prove their power with CTD oceanographic device
The Mission Arctic team uses drones and underwater automated vehicles to conduct research for the Arctic Research Center. One such vehicle is a CTD
Before discovering Atlantic Braids, Mission Arctic thought the dedicated line required to lower the CTD into the water would need to be divided into sections that would be shackled together as the line was paid out. This would allow Mission Arctic to store the sections in smaller spaces. Instead, Atlantic Braids recommended 2,500’ of 1.8mm Fling-It™, an eight-strand twill line made with Dyneema® SK-78. The Fling-It™ fits on a 7” tall spool—making it much easier to handle and store.
Nick and his crew were skeptical when they first compared the size of the CTD oceanographic device against the small Fling-It™ line. The Mission Arctic team did testing to ensure that the line could withstand the weight of the CTD, its protective cage, and the undersea currents. Much to the team’s surprise, the line showed no sign of strain nor did it compromise in flexibility. Months into the expedition, Nick remains impressed: “Over three hundred casts later and there is no sign of wear. The CTD would have easily broken any counterpart line of its size. Thanks to the Fling-It™, hundreds of meters of line that used to take up a 200-litre drum on deck is now stored conveniently on a small spool that fits in a drawer.”
Soft shackles deliver flexibility and strength
Made with Dyneema®, the soft shackles provided by Atlantic Braids are light, flexible, cost effective, and carry the same load as their heavy, inflexible, expensive steel counterparts. “The flexibility without compromising strength is, in my opinion, the soft shackles’ strongest quality,” Nick said. “A soft shackle can take any shape moulding to the angle needed to keep things from breaking or damaging the hull, spares, and deck. What’s more, soft shackles make it much easier to monitor any signs of wear, whereas steel fails without warning. Day after day in these extreme conditions our lives and the safety of the boat depend on them.”
For Mission Arctic, the soft shackles have multiple uses on board, allowing the crew to be more creative with their rigging and mooring solutions without mechanically installing hardware. “We have used them for a wide range of purposes from useful to essential,” Nick reiterates. “And we’re able to do it all without having to add a new cleat or forcing an inflexible steel shackle that can damage the boat.”
A greener world is a stronger world
To DSM Dyneema, making the world’s strongest fiber is not enough. The company is also committed to making Dyneema® the most environmentally friendly option. Three factors combine to make Dyneema® “the greenest strength”: the continuous improvement in manufacturing, ongoing R&D to further improve the unique properties of the fiber, and industry partnerships to explore a contribution to a circular economy.
Today Dyneema® delivers the lowest carbon footprint per unit of strength, meaning there is no need to compromise between high performance and sustainability.
“Sustainability has been identified as a key driver for our company. We want to contribute to a better world, but we can’t do it without collaboration from our partners,” said Edwin Grootendorst, Global Business Director, DSM Dyneema. "We take pride in knowing our best-in-class Dyneema® SK-78 fiber performs in extreme applications and, on this mission, contributes to a better understanding of the natural environment.”
Opening the door to future discovery
For the brave members of the Mission Arctic team, exploring parts of the planet that have only been previously accessed by dog sled and helicopters is both exciting and scary. As they navigate through uncharted territory that is always presenting new challenges, each day of the expedition is a mixture of science and adventure.
Mission Arctic will launch many more research projects and follow-up expeditions to expand upon the team’s discoveries and continue to understand the changes taking place in one of the most sensitive climates and eco-systems on the planet.