As Polar Ice Cap Recedes, The U.S. Navy Looks North

Exposing the Big Game

An F/A-18 Super Hornet gets ready to fly off the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Gulf of Alaska.

Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media

The U.S. Navy is looking north.

As climate change melts ice that has long blocked the region off from transit and industry, the military is figuring out how to expand its presence in the waters of the high north, primarily off the coast of Alaska.

Driving the push is that much of the commercial activity and development interest in the region is coming from nations that the Pentagon considers rivals, such as Russia and China.

The Navy’s presence in Alaska has waxed and waned over the years. The state has abundant Army and Air Force assets, with the Coast Guard spread throughout. The Navy runs submarine exercises beneath the sea ice off Alaska’s northern coast.

But until last year, no U.S. aircraft carrier had…

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