As the Arctic climate warms and Arctic sea ice recedes, potentially opening new Arctic sea routes, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have been engaged in discussions with other Arctic nations over how to cooperatively set rules for ocean use in the Arctic, senior officers from both of these arms of the U.S. armed forces told the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard on July 27.
Rear Admiral David Titley, oceanographer of the U.S. Navy, told the subcommittee that the U.S. military, including the Navy, had recently attended an Arctic militaries roundtable meeting in Oslo, Norway, to start establishing relationships at a senior level between the military organizations of the eight Arctic nations.
Russia was represented by its border guard, Titley said.
“We have good relations with them,” he said.
Titley said that the group plans to work on issues of common concern.
“We decided to hold another meeting in about a year, and we are starting working groups at the captain level to start working specific agendas,” Titley said.
Admiral Robert Papp, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said that the Coast Guard is in the process of establishing navigation rules for waters that are currently ice covered. One particular issue is the control of ocean traffic in the Bering Sea, with the establishment of international rules requiring negotiations with Russia.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been exchanging personnel with the Russians, to enable cooperation and mutual familiarity with each nation’s procedures, Papp said.
Papp said that there are several venues for international cooperation over the use of Arctic sea routes. Venues include the Arctic Council and the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, he said.