NORFOLK,Va. (WVEC) — After more than a quarter-century, a Navy aircraft carrier is back in the Arctic Circle.
The Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman entered the Norwegian Sea last week, to participate in NATO exercises. Truman is the first American carrier to patrol those waters since 1991.
The move comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia.
"A new Cold War has already begun. This is just the latest symptoms of our deteriorating relationship with Russia," said Old Dominion University International Studies Director Regina Karp, speaking of both the recent U.S. threat to withdraw from a longstanding nuclear arms pact and USS Truman's voyage to the Arctic Circle.
"It is quite significant to the extent that the Arctic has become the new geopolitical playground," she said. "A number of countries have interest in the Arctic, particularly in exploiting resources and also the freshwater access. And with climate change, more and more are going to become interested."
ODU Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences Professor Rodger Harvey isn't surprised by the development.
"In the past, we have always had submarines there, we've always had a presence there," he said. "Now, because the ice is gone we can actually bring a carrier there. We're in a position where we can do things with ships that we couldn't 30 or 40 years ago, and take advantage of the sea routes because other people will be if we don't."
Former Truman commanding officer and retired Rear Admiral Mike Groothousen said the move is a big deal.
"It's basically saying for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians are once again posing to be a great threat," he said. "As far as our training, it's a great experience for our sailors and ships."
The Truman is taking part in "Trident Juncture," an exercise with 29 NATO partner countries, plus Finland and Sweden. Fifty aircraft, 65 ships, and 50,000 troops in all are participating.
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