US Navy Arctic Roadmap for 2014 to 2030

The U.S. Navy released an updated Arctic Roadmap to prepare naval forces over the next 15 years for operations in the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic Ocean (US Navy Graphic - Image credit: US Navy Arctic Roadmap for 2014 to 2030)

"This updated Navy Arctic Roadmap prepares the U.S. Navy to respond effectively to future contingencies, delineates the Navy's Arctic leadership role within the Defense Department, and articulates the Navy's support to achieve national priorities," wrote Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert in the Roadmap introduction.

In the coming decades, as multi-year sea ice in the Arctic Ocean recedes, previously unreachable areas may open for maritime use for a few weeks each year. This opening maritime frontier has important national security implications and impact required future Navy capabilities.

"Our goal is to have the Arctic continue to unfold peaceably," said Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans and Policy. "Working with our maritime and inter-agency partners, and by investing smartly in future capabilities, we can contribute to a secure and stable Arctic region."

The Arctic Roadmap, updated from its original 2009 version, includes an implementation plan that outlines the Navy's strategic approach to developing capabilities to operate in the Arctic Ocean, and the ways and means to support the desired Department of Defense and National Strategy end states.

To plan for the changing Arctic environment, Greenert directed the Navy's Task Force Climate Change (TFCC) to produce an assessment of how ice coverage will change in the Arctic, and its impacts on the Navy.

Recognizing the inherent risks and challenges of operating in such a harsh environment, the Arctic Road Map implementation plan emphasizes:

  • increased investment in research and development to better understand long-term climate processes and improve near-term weather predictions;
  • a national effort towards ocean bottom mapping in support of accurate nautical charts;
  • development of requirements for standard aids to navigation in Arctic waters; evaluation of future shore infrastructure requirements; and
  • evaluation of requirements for logistics support capabilities for Arctic operations.

The implementation plan does not alter any current funding or budget processes but reinforces ongoing activities and provides guidance for future year budget deliberations.

"Our challenge over the coming decades is to balance the demands of current requirements with investment in the development of future capabilities," wrote Greenert. "This roadmap will ensure our investments are informed, focused, and deliberate as the Navy approaches a new maritime frontier."

The Arctic Region, with its vast expanse, severe climate, and rich natural resources, is achallenge and an opportunity for the Navy. Naval security and international naval cooperationhave always been critical components of United States' Arctic policy. As the Arctic Oceanopens, these components will increase as activity rises. This Navy Arctic Roadmap updateunderscores the need to develop strong cooperative partnerships with interagency andinternational Arctic Region stakeholders. It acknowledges the role climate change plays inenergy security, research and science, the economy, fisheries, tourism, the assertion ofsovereignty, and other related issues. To be prepared to address the emerging challenges causedby the opening of the Arctic Ocean waters, this Roadmap recognizes that changes in theenvironment must be continuously examined and taken into account.

The Navy will takedeliberate steps to anticipate and prepare for Arctic Region operations in the near-term (2014-2020), mid-term (2020-2030), and far-term (beyond 2030). The key will be to balance potentialinvestments with other Service priorities. For further information, please read US Navy Artic Roadmap 2014-2030