U.S. Strategies for Arctic Marine Safety & Security

by | Monday, June 30, 2014 |

The Arctic region, one of the last frontiers on Earth, is expected to become a larger hub for commercial activities as the result of climate change.

The economic opportunity is ripe; the area could be a profitable venue for numerous industries including:

  • port and shipping;
  • oil and gas;
  • mineral exploration;
  • fishing; and
  • tourism.

Thus, Arctic marine safety and security is becoming increasingly important.

The Artic Will See Increased Activity

With the melting of the polar icecaps, there are some changes on the horizon. The region has a profound amount of resources. Not only are there are rare minerals on the seabed, but Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. A.D. Meinzinger estimates, according to the American Forces Press Service, that a quarter of the world's oil and gas reserves are beneath the Arctic waters.

Furthermore, eco-tourism in the area is expected to rise much like it did in Antarctica, and shipping companies will have new, shorter routes for commercial sea travel between Europe and Asia.

The influx of people and commerce means increased Arctic marine security and safety concerns. Piracy and other criminal activity may rise, and regional governing tensions may enflame.

U.S. Interest in the Artic

With economic potential as well as mounting security concerns, the U.S. has a great interest in the area. The U.S. is one of the permanent members of the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, and is one of the forerunners in Artic maritime safety and security.

The Department of Defense (DoD) released the Artic Strategy in November 2013 that details U.S. objectives and strategies in the region.

In the report, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel explains: “As the president noted, ‘The Arctic region is peaceful, stable, and free of conflict,’ and it’s the role of the Department of Defense to ensure this observation remains true for future generations.”

DoD Strategies for Keeping the Artic Free of Conflict

One of the chief objectives of the DoD in the Arctic region is to ensure security and support safety. The U.S. plans to use its diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power to meet the objectives.

The DoD aims to use eight strategies for meeting its goals in the Artic:

  • “Exercise sovereignty and protect the homeland;
  • engage public and private sector partners to improve domain awareness in the Arctic;
  • preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic;
  • evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions;
  • support existing agreements with allies and partners while pursuing new ones to build confidence with key regional partners;
  • provide support to civil authorities, as directed;
  • partner with other departments and agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety;and
  • support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions that promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.

The DoD expounds on each of these approaches in the Arctic Strategy publication.

Keep Tabs on Latest Industry Developments

Commercial mariners with interest in the Arctic want to keep tabs on the political and policy developments for the region. You can stay up-to-date by subscribing to the DoD newsfeed, and by regularly visiting the Marine Education Textbooks blog.

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