Watercraft Offshore Canada Limited (WOCL) was formed in mid 1982 and for the next 12-months undertook an exhaustive search for, and evaluation of existing technology. Hundreds of technical papers from around the world were scrutinized and staff traveled to several countries examining existing equipment that may have had useful features.
A set of criteria was developed from this research that defined requirements for a new evacuation system that met all the capabilities of a standard totally enclosed lifeboat as well as the ability to operate in working temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius, land-fast ice-rubble fields, shear-zone ice and high winds on any ice surface of the Beaufort Sea.
In parallel to this research WOCL began testing ¼-scale models at the University of British Columbia's open-water wave test tank, and the US Army's cold region research ice tank. With the knowledge gained from the ¼-scale testing WOCL began testing with a 6/10-scale manned-model in 1983. The 6/10-scale model confirmed the test results of the ¼-scale model and served as a platform for the development of control systems and operational procedures.
In 1984 WOCL demonstrated the capabilities of the manned model to representatives of the Coast Guard and oil industry from both the United States and Canada. On the strength of the representatives unanimous and enthusiastic reaction WOCL proceeded to the next phase: design and construction of a full-scale prototype.
The full-scale design phase was funded and assisted technically by ESSO Canada, EXXON USA, GULF Canada, SHELL Canada, SHELL Alaska, SOHIO Alaska, ARCO USA, ARCO Alaska, Bow Valley Canada, Petro Canada and Arctic Transportation Canada. Further advice and technical assistance came from Dome Petroleum, Canmar Canada and Amoco Canada.
In 1985 construction of the full-scale 50-passenger Arctic Escape System began. Oil industry engineers and operational managers inspected the construction process on a monthly basis. The first open-water trials of the completed prototype began in February 1986 and carried on through the month of May at the Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue Hover Craft Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
After the first trials were complete the Craft was trucked to the Arctic to begin an exhaustive year of offshore amphibious mobility trials in every conceivable condition. The highlight of these trials was the successful trial-evacuation of Esso's Kaubvik Island to the Canadian coastline in a 20-hour transit over and through some of the most severe shear-zone ice conditions.
Upon arriving in the Arctic the Craft was christened
now a registered trademark of Arktos Developments Ltd. (ADL), which ultimately
grew from the Watercraft group of companies. Although no connection remains
between the Watercraft group and ADL, the history of ARKTOS
advancement is a story of consistent dedication to the development and improvement
of amphibious mobility and practical answers to the extraordinary demands
of customers with operational requirements in diverse and hostile environments.
World Leaders In Amphibious Mobility