By Joe Spears and Monica Ahlroos

The Finns know a thing or two about icebreakers, having constructed Arctic-capable icebreakers for well over 150 years even for the Russians, and it is not every day that they award medals for ice navigation to Canadians. In April 2018 at the Canadian Embassy in Finland, David (“Duke”) Snider, FNI, MM, President of Martech Polar Consulting Ltd. based in Victoria, British Columbia received the Canada-Finland medal metal recognizing his outstanding contributions for fostering good relations via arctic operations and navigation. Martech Polar was recognized by International Transport News Maritime & Shipping Awards 2018 as “Best Global Ice Pilotage and Navigation Specialists” and by CV Magazine’s Canadian Business Awards 2019 as “Best Polar Ice Navigation and Pilotage Specialists”

Duke and Rear Admiral (Retired) Nigel Greenwood provided ice navigator services for the MSV Nordica when it transited from Vancouver to Finland through the Northwest Passage in July 2017. It set a record as the earliest passage of the season. The voyage took place during Finland’s 100th anniversary, with a passenger list of a hundred arctic researchers and journalists celebrating the founding of Finland. During Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, this was a momentous event with a Canadian ice navigator on board, along with a Canadian Coast Guard observer. See

Ten individuals were honoured for their efforts in advancing Canada-Finland relationships. Duke was extremely honoured to be included in that group, having worked with the embassy and others in Finland on a number of projects, including planning and sailing as Ice Navigator onboard Finnish ships that conducted Northwest Passage voyages in 2015, and 2017 noted above, as well as a number of joint Canadian/Finnish Arctic and ice shipping projects, and contributed to projects related to oil pollution response in ice covered waters.

Capt. Snider is a former naval officer, Canadian Coast Guard Commanding Officer, Marine Superintendent, Master Mariner and the past-President of the world-renowned Nautical Institute based in London, a leading voice for international vessel operations. He is also a graduate of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a BMS in Shipping Management. Duke is been involved in developing ground-breaking navigational standards for Ice Navigators and developing the curriculum as part of the ongoing work of International Maritime Organization’s development of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code). The Polar Code is an international regime adopted by International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2014, and sets out regulations for shipping in the Polar regions, principally relating to Ice navigation and ship design.

Duke’s development work resulted in the founding of The Nautical Institute launching the Ice Navigator Training Accreditation and Certification program in July 2017. The Institute published the new Second Edition of Polar Ship Operations this month, including new chapters and updates within the book.

Canada is lucky to have dedicated Master Mariners and Ice navigators such as Duke setting the bar high for international arctic shipping operations and training of future generations of ice navigators. Duke is truly an Arctic Elder. Nice to see the recognition of a lifetime of excellence at sea.