As ice melts in the Arctic, the Navy anticipates that it will have to increase its presence in the harsh northern region, but not until after 2020, according to a new roadmap released by the service Feb. 24.
There will be low demand for additional naval involvement in the Arctic through the end of this decade, stated the “U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap: 2014-2030.” After then, increased periods of ice-free conditions in the region could expand the Navy’s involvement in the region, the report said.
The move would be a shift from the current status quo, where Navy engagement is limited to submarine missions, while the Coast Guard maintains responsibility for Arctic security.
Since the first roadmap was issued in 2009, melting in the Arctic has rapidly increased, said Rear Adm. Jonathan White, oceanographer of the Navy.
“Ice in the Arctic has been receding faster than we previously thought back in 2009. It was a new record for ice melt back in 2012, and it offers an increase in activity,” he said during a media roundtable.
The Arctic region holds a plethora of undiscovered fossil fuels and natural resources, including an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, the roadmap said.