The Weekend Wonk: Admiral Roughhead on the Opening of the Arctic

September 6, 2014

Things you find on the way to finding other things.

Admiral Gary Roughead (USN Ret.), the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1973. In September 2007, Admiral Roughead became the twenty-ninth chief of naval operations after holding six operational commands and is one of only two officers in the navy’s history to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

The talk above was given in June 2013.

Funfact:

Numbers of icebreakers by country:

Russia   43

Sweden   9

Finland   9

Canada   13

US   1

Yahoo News:

Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Saturday sent six ships carrying personnel and equipment to a Soviet-era military base in the Arctic that it is reopening to bolster its presence in the region, Russian news agencies reported.

Moscow is ramping up its military presence in the pristine but energy-rich region as other countries such as Canada and Norway are also staking claims to access its resources.

President Vladimir Putin last year ordered the military to return to a base on the far-Northern New Siberian Islands that was abandoned in 1993.

Der Spiegel:

It’s been only four years since two German cargo ships used the polar shipping route for the first time. The Beluga Fraternity and the Beluga Foresight put out to sea from the South Korean port city of Ulsan in late July 2009 and reached Rotterdam in record time by traveling along the Siberian coast.

In 2010, four ships braved the Northeast Passage, and 46 followed suit last year. Still, the voyage remains a massive undertaking for lack of a safe shipping channel. The trick is to navigate a ship through sea mile after sea mile of ice fields and shallow straits.

In addition, each permit to travel the passage has thus far been preceded by a series of bureaucratic hurdles. This is expected to change radically, now that a new agency opened for business in Moscow in March. The Northern Sea Route Administration (NSRA) was created to develop infrastructure and substantially increase traffic along the route.

As of Thursday, the NSRA had already issued permits to 431 ships to traverse the Northern Sea Route. The agency doesn’t even expect an “ice class” from many ships, meaning they are allowed to enter the Arctic Ocean without a hull that is specially reinforced against ice.

The intercontinental highway through the polar sea has been open since July and will begin closing again in late October. Until then, cargo ships carrying ore, coal, fertilizer and grain, as well as supertankers carrying crude oil and liquid natural gas, will travel back and forth between Europe and the Far East. For the first time, Chinese freighters are now among the ships traveling through the Northeast Passage. The Yong Sheng (14,000 gross register tons) is scheduled to arrive in Rotterdam on Sept. 11.

 

 

 

 

9 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Admiral Roughhead on the Opening of the Arctic”


  1. […] Things you find on the way to finding other things. Admiral Gary Roughead (USN Ret.), the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1…  […]


  2. Increased trade will increase the wealthof the countries doing the increased trade. The Russian have a lot of ice breakers because they has a lot of frozen half the year coast. The US in contrast has open seas for all its ports so did not need ice breakers which are expensive to run and useless for almost everything except breaking ice. The arctic ice in August was well above the seasonal low average which is measured in September and last year the seasonal low was average. If that trend continues the open periods in the Arctic will be short and good for business when open.


  3. If you google NASA crosphere and click on current ice levels in the arctic you get a number of graphs on the ice extent. you can plainly see the summers have been warmer and the winter have been colder in the arctic which means the summer ice will be less. That occured in 2008-2012. The trend line for US temperatures is down so how much longer the warmer arctic conditions will exist is up for grabs.


    • Up for grabs? Never bet against the house. In this case, the house is physics.

      Is this one of the extent graphs you’re referring to?
      http://neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov/csb/index.php?section=234

      And this is an ice volume graph.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      How much longer is Peter going to allow MF to pollute the discourse with inanities and denier bald assertions?

      “Increased trade will increase the wealth of the countries doing the increased trade”, MF says? DUH!

      “The Russian have a lot of ice breakers because they has a lot of frozen half the year coast”? Double DUH!

      “The US in contrast has open seas for all its ports so did not need ice breakers which are expensive to run and useless for almost everything except breaking ice”? DUH yet again! Did MF not listen to the Admiral’s speech? Does he not understand that the greedy rich and the corporations who want to exploit the arctic see ice breakers as an important part of the money making machine?

      “The arctic ice in August was well above the seasonal low average which is measured in September and last year the seasonal low was average. If that trend continues the open periods in the Arctic will be short and good for business when open”. An Omno-like observation that rates a “WHAT?”

      And the closing “clincher”—-bald assertions of distorted and meaningless horsepucky like “you can plainly see the summers have been warmer and the winter have been colder in the arctic which means the summer ice will be less. That occurred in 2008-2012”. More Omno-speak there.

      And, just as Charles was, I too am struck by MF’s ignorance in stating “The trend line for US temperatures is down so how much longer the warmer arctic conditions will exist is up for grabs”. The trend line for U.S. temps is DOWN? In what alternate universe does MF reside? Not one in which the Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral is playing out.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        everyone gets a chance to prove whether they are willing to discuss in good faith.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          So far, M Fellion is proving only the truth of what you said about deniers’ comments when you talked about Mobeeleven on the other thread. IMO, he is not “discussing in good faith”, although I WILL accept either a low-IQ or an insanity defense if he so pleads.

  4. cynthiajoanmorrison Says:

    The Arctic should be declared a World Heritage Site…to protect it.

  5. dumboldguy Says:

    Yes, you can find some interesting stuff “on the way to looking for other things”, and this one was very interesting on many levels. At first glance I said “Oh no, there’s a huge ice-breaker gap”, and wondered if the Repugnants in Congress would soon start demanding that we stop feeding hungry children and instead spend the money to close the Ice Breaker Gap. Money IS going to be tight now that we seem to want to go to war with virtually the entire Middle East and maybe the North Koreans, Chinese, Iranians, and Russians before too long. But I digress. My second thought was that we should do as the Russians did in 1962 with Cuba, and talk to the Norwegians about establishing an ice breaker base on Svaalbard. We can sneak our ice breakers in there right under the Russian’s noses and dare them to do anything about it. I chuckled.

    Then I watched the Admiral’s talk and got serious, because my crap detectors vibrated in a number of places as he spoke.

    First, the numbers of icebreakers by country that he cited seemed off so I googled a bit and found that they were indeed misleading. The number for Russia (43) was pretty accurate, but the US has somewhere between 3 and 5 (and uses them mainly in the Antarctic, it seems), and Canada has only 6. The US ships are newer than he implied—only one is “old”. Only five countries have territorial “claims” to sectors radiating out from the north pole to their shorelines bordering the Arctic Ocean. Denmarks’ and Norway’s sectors together make up 22+% (although others are squeezing Denmark) and they have no icebreakers. The US (8+%), Canada (22+%), and Russia (38%) make up the rest of the claimants—-a bit less than 10% is not really claimable . Russia and Canada SHOULD have more ice breakers—-they do need them now—-we really don’t.

    Sweden and Finland’s icebreakers are irrelevant because those countries have no coastline on the Arctic Ocean, and they use them to keep shipping lanes open in the Baltic Sea area. “Why is the Admiral so ill-informed?”, I asked myself, and concluded that he (and the Hoover Institution) are part of an imminent push for the US to “grab our share” of the riches waiting to be exploited in the Arctic, as well as perhaps try to minimize the share claimed by those who “do not work in our interests”, i.e., the Russians. The Russians are even claiming that the North Pole is part of their “extended continental shelf”, and if that is upheld, they could claim about 1/2 of the AO seabed as “theirs”. A good map showing the potential claims can be found at http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jan/005

    The Law of the Sea Treaty and the Council of the Arctic Nations will be the source of some very interesting machinations as the arctic sea ice disappears and allows resource exploitation to go down the same sorry path there. The Arctic Council includes Iceland, Finland, and Sweden—small countries that may extend above the Arctic Circle but have no coastline on the Arctic Ocean and no claims there. Norway and Denmark do have claims but are also puny compared to the US and Russia (as is Canada as well with its 35 million people). And Putin controls Russia—-fasten your seatbelts—-it’s going to be some ride.


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