‘Ice man’ wins 2023 Admirals Medal

David ‘Duke’ Snider, Founder and President of Martech Polar Consultants,

Victoria resident David ‘Duke’ Snider, Founder and President of Martech Polar Consultants, was selected for the Admirals’ Medal by the Naval Association of Canada (NAC).

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

A former officer of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), world-renowned for his efforts to establish international standards in polar ice navigation, is the latest recipient of the prestigious Admirals’ Medal. 

Victoria resident David ‘Duke’ Snider, Founder and President of Martech Polar Consultants, was selected for the Admirals’ Medal by the Naval Association of Canada (NAC).

Bestowed upon individuals for the advancement of maritime affairs in Canada, the award recognizes Snider for his groundbreaking efforts to set standards in the shipping industry and for providing navigation specialists and qualified ice pilots for both commercial and government vessels.

“Our job at Martech Polar is 100 per cent about safety,” said Snider. “We go on ships to provide guidance to Masters and Operators and to ensure their ships are not dented, damaged or in disaster.”

Polar Navigation

Martech Polar Consultants is an operational service provider for commercial and government vessels, passenger, cruise ships and yachts transiting the world’s oceans. It places highly experienced and certified ice navigators on ships in both polar regions.

Snider served as a Naval Warfare Officer in the RCN for three years in the late 1970s and retired as an Acting Sub-Lieutenant before embarking on a 33-year career in the Canadian Coast Guard, until retirement in 2013. 

Snider was elected Fellow of The Nautical Institute in 2003 and is Past President now sitting on the Executive Board. He was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2008, and is a recipient of the U.S. Antarctic Service Medal and the Canada-Finland Medal for his accomplishments and practice of ice-navigating standards. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Nautical Institute (NI) Ice Navigator Qualification and the incorporation of similar requirements in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Polar Code, adopted in 2018. 

His book Polar Ship Operations is now in its second edition and is a recognized textbook for ice-navigator training. He has previously made presentations on ice navigation to junior officers at HMCS Venture and regularly advises the United States Coast Guard on navigation issues. 

Raising Awareness

Vice-Admiral (ret’d) Gary Garnett, member of the Admiral’s Medal Selection Committee, said there was little debate in establishing Snider as a worthy candidate for the award.

“Captain Snider’s expertise in ice navigation has contributed significantly to the safety of shipping in Canada’s far north,” Garnett said. “He ticks all the boxes for the Admirals’ Award and is a remarkable man in the midst of a remarkable career.”

Garnett is also a Member of the Naval Association of Canada Vancouver Island Branch, served 38 years with the RCN, retiring as a Commander, and enjoyed four years as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff from 1997 to 2001.

Snider hopes the notoriety of the award and being recognized will help raise awareness of the need for further polar ice safety standards and ice pilots in the maritime industry. He is keen to encourage others working in the maritime industry to follow in his footsteps.

The medal will officially be presented to Snider during a March 28 meeting at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. 

The Admirals’ Medal

The Admirals’ Medal was established in 1985 by the RCN but transferred to the Naval Association in 2021. The Award is named for Vice-Admiral Rollo Mainguy and then Rear-Admirals’ George Stephens and Nigel Brodeur, and is awarded by a NAC selection committee. 

For more information on the Admirals’ Medal visit: navalassoc.ca/the-admirals-medal/

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