Navy Releases Roadmap for Future Arctic Operations


Story Number: NNS091124-08Release Date: 11/24/2009 3:32:00 PM
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By Bob Freeman, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations has released a new roadmap that will guide Navy policy, strategy and investments related to a changing Arctic.

The Arctic roadmap was developed by the Navy's Task Force Climate Change, a matrixed organization that includes representatives from various staff and program offices and the operational fleet, with the collaboration of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"As the Arctic Ocean continues to show a long-term trend in sea ice decline, the potential for increased human access and activity in the region will some day likely require a greater Navy presence there to protect national interests," said Rear Adm. Dave Titley, oceanographer of the Navy, who is leading the task force.

Although the Arctic remains a challenging environment, the potential for resource extraction, like oil, gas, and minerals, and the attraction of significantly shorter shipping routes, will likely attract commercial interests.

With more than a thousand miles of coastline and potential sovereign rights to several hundred thousand square miles of ocean area in the Arctic, the U.S. has a strong national security and homeland defense interest in the region. A presidential memorandum signed by in January 2009 tasks the Department of Defense to "project a sovereign maritime presence" in the Arctic.

The goal of the roadmap is to ensure naval readiness and capability and promote maritime security in the Arctic region. Key elements of the plan include increasing operational experience, promoting cooperative partnerships and improving environmental understanding.

Recommendations from the roadmap include an assessment of Navy readiness for operating under harsh Arctic conditions, with a methodical review of current capabilities and gaps; the continuation of Arctic and sub-Arctic training exercises, including joint search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises with the Coast Guard; and investments in sensors and platforms to expand awareness of the Arctic maritime domain, including more robust environmental sensors to support enhanced modeling that will lead to better predictive capabilities.

"We are using a timeline based on the best science available to assist Navy leadership in determining what investments will be needed to meet future mission requirements," Titley explained.

For more news from Naval Oceanographic Office, visit www.navy.mil/local/navo/.

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