March 23, 2014
ARCTIC OCEAN – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today participated in tactical training exercises aboard the USS NEW MEXICO, a nuclear-powered Virginia-class attack submarine, as part of the Navy’s tri-annual Ice Training Exercises known as ICEX, which is designed to help develop and hone submarine operational and warfighting capabilities in the harsh Arctic environment.
“As climate change warms the Arctic environment, we must recalibrate our national security and economic strategies to meet the challenges and opportunities it creates,” Senator King said. “It was eye-opening to be aboard the USS NEW MEXICO today, to speak with and watch the crew at work, and to really understand the incredible capabilities of our submarine force in such a challenging environment.”
Today’s exercises tested the USS NEW MEXICO’s combat, sonar, communications, and navigation systems.
The Arctic Ocean is of increasing strategic importance to the United States. Not only does it border several nations, including the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark, but it also serves as an important waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, particularly as the accelerating melting of Arctic ice creates the potential to open up global shipping routes, new energy sources, and other commercial interests.
In May 2013, President Obama released a National Strategy for the Arctic Region, which states that the United States has “broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic” and that the U.S. must advance “national security interests, pursue responsible stewardship, and strengthen international collaboration and cooperation, as we work to meet the challenges of rapid climate-driven environmental change” in the region. Consequently, the U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap 2014-2030 requires that the Navy to be fully mission capable in Arctic waters. The Navy’s ICEX is critical to maintaining that capability and readiness.