A carefully planned, 115-day scientific expedition on board the floating research vessel, the CCGS Amundsen, has been derailed as the icebreaker was called to help resupply ships navigate heavy ice in Hudson Bay.

"Obviously it has a large impact on us," says Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet, which coordinates research on the vessel. "It's a frustrating situation."

During the summer, the  Amundsen operates as a floating research centre with experiments running 24 hours a day. This year it was scheduled to reach North Baffin Bay.

CCGS Amundsen

The CCGS Amundsen left port July 10 to head to the Arctic. (Courtesy of ArcticNet)

But the icebreaker has been rerouted to escort commercial ships en route to resupply communities in Northern Quebec on the eastern side of Hudson Bay.

Worst conditions in 20 years

Johnny Leclair, assistant commissioner for the Coast Guard, said Tuesday conditions in the area are the worst he's seen in 20 years.

With only two icebreakers available in the Arctic — the CCGS Pierre Radisson has been escorting resupply ships through ice-choked Frobisher Bay — he said the only option was to re-deploy the Amundsen

Leclair did say there should be two more icebreakers headed to the Arctic in the next week, which should free up the Amundsen to return to its scientific mission.

Fortier is hopeful the season will still be productive.

"The people planning the large expeditions have a plan B," Fortier said. "We have already curtailed or either moved to a later date some of the stations and some of the areas we were suppose to sample."