US submarines surface in tug of war over Arctic riches (Reuters)

Ice camp called way to show US ‘use and presence’ as other nations make claims

By Andrea Shalal-Esa/Reuters 3/25/2011 – Original article here

APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY ICE STATION, Arctic Ocean — The United States is staging high-profile submarine exercises in the Arctic Ocean as evidence mounts that global warming will lead to more mining, oil production, shipping and fishing in the world’s last frontier.

Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and a Who’s Who of other VIPs braved below-zero temperatures this month to visit a temporary camp on the ice about 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where two nuclear-powered U.S. submarines are conducting military training exercises.

“It is important for us to continue to train and operate in the Arctic,” said U.S. Navy Captain Rhett Jaehn, the No. 2 official overseeing U.S. submarine forces.

He said U.S. submarines are a powerful symbol of U.S. military power, and the training was meant to ensure that the United States maintained access to the Arctic, home to the world’s largest undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

“It is a key potential transit line between the Atlantic and the Pacific. We want to be able to demonstrate that we have global reach. That we can operate in all oceans, and that we can operate proficiently in any environment,” Jaehn said.

Russia, the United States, Denmark, Greenland, Canada and Norway, which border the Arctic, and China are already jockeying for position to benefit from new business opportunities there.

Navy scientists predict the Arctic will have one ice-free summer month in about the mid-2030s, and two to three ice-free months by around mid-century. Less ice means the 56-mile wide Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska could one day compete with the Persian Gulf and other shipping lanes because it is as much as 40 percent shorter than conventional routes.

Changing ice conditions in the Arctic are expected to lead to greater commercial traffic, increasing the need for submarine and Coast Guard patrols.

The Navy’s chief oceanographer, Rear Adm. David Titley, who visited the camp last week, said just finding a thick enough multi-year ice sheet to put the camp was difficult this year.

Jaehn is the officer in charge of the temporary ice camp, where more than two dozen Navy officials, researchers, engineers and scientists, and some military officials from Britain and Canada, are facilitating the biannual exercises.

U.S. submarines on Arctic training

Barents Observer 2011-03-18 original article here

The US Navy attack submarine USS Annapolis during Ice Exercise 2009 (Photo: Wikipedia)The nuclear-powered submarines “USS New Hampshire” and “USS Connecticut” are currently conducting submarine operations in Arctic waters, the U.S. Navy informs.

The two submarines started the exercise ICEX-2011 on March 15, the U.S. Navy’s web site reads.

– It is critical that we continue to operate and train today’s submarines in the challenging Arctic environment, said Captain Rhett Jaehn, ice camp officer-in-tactical-command.  -ICEX-2011 is the latest in a series of Arctic exercises, which are key to ensuring our submarines are trained and ready to support U.S. interests in this region, he added.

Read also: US navy warned to prepare for Arctic struggle as climate changes

The overall exercise has been planned and will be coordinated by the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory in San Diego and a temporary tracking range will be built into the ice flow north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

The camp consists of a small village, constructed and operated especially for ICEX, by the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, and members of the U.S., Canadian, and British navies.

As BarentsObserver reported, the U.S. Navy and civilian scientists have established a program called SCICEX – short for Science Ice Exercise, which enables scientists to use Navy submarines to collect data from Arctic regions that are normally beyond scientists’ reach.

For the latest information on ICEX and life at the ice camp, visit the official blog of the United States Navy, at

No radiation danger as scrapped nuclear sub catches fire in north Russia

Up to 70 people are involved in the effort to put out the fire© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Mordasov

A nuclear submarine being scrapped caught fire on Friday at the Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia’s city of Severodvinsk, but there is no radiation danger, the city administration said.

“A fire started in the hold of the third compartment of the K-480 Ak Bars nuclear submarine. The submarine is being scrapped, nuclear fuel has been removed from the reactor. There is no radiation danger for the population,” it said in a statement.

No one was reported injured.

Up to 70 people are involved in the effort to put out the fire.


Thanks to Circumpolar Musings for reporting this one!
Original article here