Alaska’s junior senator says the country is finally starting to act like an Arctic nation with the release of the 2016 Arctic Strategy. The Department of Defense wrote the 17-page strategy, discussing how best to protect US interests in the region, given its challenging and changing climate.
The strategy identifies 43 recommendations for infrastructure development. The two most important recommendations are building an Arctic port and more icebreaker ships, said Sen. Dan Sullivan.
According to Sullivan, Russia has 40 icebreakers and they’re building more, while the U.S. has two and one is broken.
“If the highways of the Arctic are icebreakers, they have super highways and we have dirt roads with pot holes,” he said. “We need to change that dynamic.”
The strategy also talks about potential threats, including the melting sea ice opening the coast to commercial and military traffic, possible regional conflicts and erosion of coastal assets.
Sullivan said it’s not perfect, but after calling the 2013 Arctic Strategy “a joke,” he said this one is a step in the right direction.
“It lays out our interests in the region in a much more definitive way, opening sea lanes, resource development, search and rescue, environmental issues,” he said.
Sullivan said developing reliable communication and increasing search and rescue capabilities are also areas of importance, especially as traffic in the region grows.