Into the Labyrinth: The Making of a Modern-Day Theseus provides an insider’s account of Project Spinnaker, a joint Canada–US defence project conceived in the waning days of the Cold War. Spinnaker’s secret purpose was to reassert Canada’s Arctic sovereignty by providing the capability to monitor submarine traffic in Canadian Arctic waters. The star of Project Spinnaker was Theseus, a massive, Canadian-made autonomous underwater vehicle designed with a single purpose: laying fibre-optic cable in ice-covered waters.
More than 2,500 years after the mythical Greek hero Theseus ventured into the labyrinth on the island of Crete to slay the Minotaur, the submarine Theseus was launched into an undersea labyrinth with a strikingly similar goal: lay nearly 200 kilometres of fibre-optic cable on the seafloor of Canada’s Arctic, then turn around and follow it back out.
With a foreword written by Dr. James R. McFarlane, OC, CD, P.Eng., FCAE and endorsements by several well-known experts in the subsea industry, Into the Labyrinth provides a fascinating glimpse into the subsea industry of the 1980s and ‘90s set against the backdrop of Canada’s stunning yet hostile High Arctic.
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About the Author
BRUCE BUTLER is a registered Professional Engineer and has worked in the high-technology field for thirty-five years in marine navigation, autonomous vehicles (land, underwater), vessel surveillance, telecommunications, mining automation, and remote control of construction equipment. Bruce was involved in Project Spinnaker from start to finish while employed by International Submarine Engineering Ltd. for fourteen years. He was the Systems Engineer and Deputy Program Manager for Theseus vehicle development and responsible for Theseus’s inertial/acoustic navigation system that enabled it to find its way underwater. During the Arctic test missions in 1995 and the cable-laying missions in 1996, he led all mission planning and testing and acted as Chief Pilot. During his work on Project Spinnaker, Butler lived and worked for 111 days in the high Arctic over five visits, at both CFS Alert and in field camps on the Arctic ice pack. He currently lives in Pitt Meadows, BC, Canada where he does home renovations, writes, and keeps fit by running, cycling, and swimming. He is mostly retired, but can be convinced to take on the occasional consulting job if it’s interesting enough.