Thursday, April 11, 2013

Arctic Challenges and Opportunities Discussed at Sea Services Roundtable

Arctic Challenges and Opportunities Discussed at Sea Services Roundtable

By Bob Freeman, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy Public Affairs Office
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) -- In a roundtable discussion held here yesterday April 9 at the Navy League's annual Sea-Air-Space symposium, representatives from the Navy, Coast Guard, and Interior Department discussed the ramifications of decreasing summer sea ice in the high latitudes.

"The Arctic Ocean is a maritime region that has been largely inaccessible in the past," said Rear Adm. Jon White, director of the Navy's Task Force Climate Change and a member of the panel discussion. "The changing climate in the Arctic is prompting the sea services to evaluate their readiness for operations in the high north."

Ice-free waters during the Arctic summer are opening the region to greater human activity including cargo shipping, oil and gas exploration, coastal mining transportation, commercial fishing, and adventure tourism, according to panel member Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, director of response policy for the U.S. Coast Guard.

White remarked that maritime crossroads around the globe represent critical national security priorities. As the Arctic increases in economic importance, its crossroads will also increase in strategic importance, and there will be a greater requirement for a naval presence.

"Nobody wants to militarize the Arctic or make it a military-controlled region," White explained. "We believe the presence of the U.S. Navy, and all well-meaning navies, acts as a force for security, which leads to stability and prosperity."

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