Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12/17/2012 Repost

                                                  THE BEAR ON ICE

                                                                 Updated and Revisited

We reported this story back in August. It is worth repeating since the High Arctic shipping season is over it is easy to forget the naval pressures mounting on us in the Arctic region while China and Iran are making so much trouble for us in warmer seas. It important that we keep our eyes on all of the action . Given all of the trouble spots one has to wonder how on earth our leaders can think of being able to respond with a Navy of less than 300 ships and a Coast Guard the size of the New York City Fire Department. While the Dragon spits in our eye the Bear is  gnawing on our hind quarters. 

Naval Interest: IVAN IN THE HIGH ARCTIC:  Ivan already wants to rename the Arctic Ocean the "Russian Sea" but at least the Bear, unlike the Dragon is trying to perfect its claims under existing international law. A Russian Icebreaker departed MURMANSK, Russia on August 4, 2012 and subsequently met, as planned, a second Russian Icebreaker in Norway where  they  departed for the high arctic. Their mission was to explore the high latitude boundaries of the Mendeleev Ridge. This was not the first such Russian expedition and will not be the last. These ships have been back in their home ports for some time now and the media has been rather silent on the findings , if any have been announced.   If Russia can prove that this ridge is part of their continental shelf existing international law gives them the right to incorporate at least some of it into their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), even if their expanded EEZ encroaches closer than 200 miles to U.S. and Canadian waters. 

OPINION: Russia can afford to devote two major ice breakers to scientific research in support of territorial claims. As noted in an earlier blog last week, the United States has over one thousand miles of Arctic coast line and only one functional major ice breaker. If Russia claims to the edge of our own Outer Continental Shelf , or our territorial waters , how do we counter their science?

 Everyone is concerned about our shrinking and increasingly expensive fleet of aircraft carriers, but our shortage of the more mundane Coast Guard Icebreakers may cost us the oil revenues, and oil itself that could keep carrier task forces going. When will the United States wake up and realize that we are a maritime nation, maritime power because we are maritime dependent. We have to be strong across the board to survive; a strong Navy, strong Coast Guard, crackerjack NOAA fleet, and large versatile  Merchant Marine. The tiny NOAA fleet is the only fleet dedicated to ocean research, and charting. Not only does the Coast Guard need more icebreakers to support a persistent presence, support search and rescue, and facilitate commerce in the High Arctic but NOAA needs ships with serious ice breaking capability. We need to be doing our own research to be ready to counter any junk science by the Russians when the time comes.  


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