Americans go to the Arctic not for the Northern Sea Route

Recent years have been marked by Washington's heightened interest in the northern polar region. The US and its allies are creating special forces capable of operating in the Arctic. In response, Russia is strengthening the Northern Fleet, which received the status of a military district, and the possibility of forming some kind of special Arctic flotilla is being discussed. What have we really not shared with the "hegemon" in this cold deserted land?

Northern Sea Route?

It is believed that practical Americans became interested in the prospects that the Northern Sea Route opens up for international trade. Thanks to global warming, the polar ice caps are melting noticeably and faster. If you look at the map, it turns out that the NSR is the shortest waterway "from the Varangians to the Chinese." In theory, the reduction of the transport shoulder should make it more attractive for maritime commercial transport. Plus, there is no risk of a “thrombus” formation, as was the case recently on the Suez Canal. It would seem, take it and take it.

In practice, things look a little different.

First of all, the navigation of the Northern Sea Route directly depends on the seasonal factor. To lead a caravan of ships with a guarantee, you need a heavy-duty nuclear-powered super-icebreaker of the “Leader” type. This project is being worked out in our country, but so far it is not “in the hardware” yet, and it is worth counting only the money that you have in your pocket.

Second. Wiring with the help of such special vessels costs a lot of money. So far, only Russia has a monopoly on this service, but other countries, led by the United States, are trying to challenge it. Interestingly, even far from Arctic China is building its own icebreakers. You can reduce the cost of wiring if you assemble a large caravan of ships.

Third. Like many things in our country, departmental games have a negative impact on the final result. Initially, the Ministry of Transport was solely responsible for the Northern Sea Route. However, in 2018, the state corporation Rosatom was made the infrastructure operator instead of a state institution. The ministry did not agree with this, and apparatus intrigues began, as a result of which the Ministry of Transport reserved the right to issue permits for the passage of ships along the NSR, and the corporation received the right to develop transport infrastructure. According to a recent statement by the head of Rosatom, Likhachev, due to inconsistency between the two departments, at the end of 2021, more than two dozen ships got stuck in the ice.

Let's face it, foreign customers will definitely not have confidence in such an "operator". It is much easier to send cargo along the long-trodden path of the Suez Canal. Plus, it is not entirely clear what kind of cargo to carry through the polar territories. You can't bring laptops and other electronics. It is risky to carry goods that require urgent delivery: you never know, you will get stuck among the ice, and then respond with penalties. The Arctic is what it is.

Does this mean that the Northern Sea Route has no special prospects?

Of course not. Rather, there is. It's just that in the foreseeable future the NSR should be perceived not as an international transit corridor, but as a sea gate for Russia to export natural resources from the Arctic region. It is enough to look at what companies and what is really being transported along the Northern Sea Route. These are oil, LNG, in the future - coal and other resources that will go through the port of Indiga planned for construction.

Then a natural question arises, what did the Americans forget then? As a transit route for the NSR, they have no need, since the United States simultaneously accesses both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Building expensive icebreakers to earn extra money as pilots on wiring? Yes, it will not work, since part of the Northern Sea Route passes through Russian territorial waters, and competitors will hardly be welcome there. It's clearly something else.

Arctic foothold

If you look not at a map, but at a globe, it turns out that it is through the Far North that the shortest distance for the flight of intercontinental ballistic missiles passes. And it is precisely under the ice of the Northern Ocean that the combat patrol areas of Russian strategic submarines are located. And it is there, in the Arctic, that American submarines hunt for our submarines constantly roam. And now the United States wants to qualitatively increase its military presence in this region.

In 2019, the then head of the Pentagon, Spencer, stated the following verbatim:

The current mission of the US Navy is to increase its power in the Arctic by creating new strategic naval bases in the Bering Sea region and expanding its military presence in Alaska.

And they are already doing it. The United States has launched a program to build a series of modern icebreakers. By 2027 there should already be 3 of them. American destroyers equipped with guided missile weapons (URO) have become frequent and uninvited guests in the Barents Sea. The US Navy is considering opening a permanent naval base in the Arctic. Warm hangars for F-35 fighters are being built in Alaska, and the number of these fifth-generation fighters is increasing.

The NATO allies are not far behind. This spring, the North Atlantic Alliance will hold a large-scale Cold Response military exercise in Norway, which will involve 35 troops. The British are especially trying, who are preparing their marines "to be ready to fight in the Arctic at any time, if necessary." I wonder who?

Probably us.

Not surprisingly, the Northern Fleet received the status of a separate military district. On the Russian side, a network of military airfields and air defense bases is being built in the Arctic. The ground forces received special "northern" anti-aircraft systems "Pantsir-SA" and "arctic" tanks T-80BVM. Patrol combat icebreakers are being built.

We are getting ready slowly.
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  1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 18 February 2022 16: 17
    Judging by the article, then all the previous promises - super cables, super coastal infrastructure for international transportation, trade flow from America and Asia to Europe, new Arctic ships for this - have already been forgotten .... (and they no longer appear in the media)

    Disperse the polar bears and take out everything that they got over the hill ...
  2. Bulanov Offline Bulanov
    Bulanov (Vladimir) 18 February 2022 16: 19
    This is how they will burn all the fuel on the planet, competing with each other with weapons, and then hunger-cold will begin and only the rich, armed with gangs, will scour the remnants of civilization. Just like they show in Hollywood. It would be better if they explored space together, as Efremov and the Strugatskys bequeathed.
  3. gunnerminer Offline gunnerminer
    gunnerminer (gunner miner) 18 February 2022 16: 21
    According to a recent statement by the head of Rosatom, Likhachev, due to inconsistency between the two departments, at the end of 2021, more than two dozen ships got stuck in the ice.

    The cunning of Rosatom. Icebreakers are clearly not enough. And if such failures occur in peacetime, then what will happen if unknown boats lay mines or torpedo ships passing through the NSR!
    The NSR is not equipped for navigation. Not even radar transponders. There are no rescue coordination centers. The NSR is not suitable for the most common maritime transport - container ships. These vessels do not carry thousands of TEU from one port to another without calling at intermediate ports. Vice versa. Containers are changed several times to the final port. But Russian ports along the NSR do not have year-round rail or water transport.

    The KSF has the status of a separate military district. There is no adequate infrastructure and security and defense forces. First of all, officers and warrant officers / midshipmen. And in order to train them, it is required to restore the recently destroyed educational institutions. And that's a lot of money.
  4. sH, arK Offline sH, arK
    sH, arK 20 February 2022 01: 31
    The United States today has no icebreakers, Polar Star is actually already half dead. They can build new ones, but at the price of an aircraft carrier. But the goal? The NSR goes 100% through the economic waters of Russia and 30% through the territorial ones. You can get around them, but in 100 years if global warming is not a fiction and its dynamics will continue.
    SSBN interception?! What, icebreakers?! Does the author understand the speed of passing on ice even a meter long? And the SSBNs go under the Pole - from there it’s closer and faster to fly, it’s extremely difficult to detect a launch there, there are a lot of problems for those who don’t know what the Pole is! US boats go under the ice - well, get in and out, really, they don’t conduct constant duty there. And they are the only thing that can somehow pose a threat to the SSBNs. But very limited. AGAS is good if the boat in one horizon hears another 50 miles away, but there is a problem - a passive detector hears AGAS 200 miles away! A boat is not a plane! 150 miles is 10 hours of good travel! And leave or aim at the pursuer multi-purpose - one or two. Therefore, the Northern Fleet is the main striking force, the Pacific Fleet - well, on the pickup from Okhotsk, it is also extremely difficult to intercept SSBNs there ... Especially if the Kuril Straits are taken under control. Well, that's enough already. Our fleet is primarily a projection defense fleet, not a projection fleet ...
  5. Dingo Offline Dingo
    Dingo (Victor) 27 February 2022 11: 40
    A special "thank you" to "Dimon-iPhone", who "gave" part of the water area of ​​the Barents Sea to Norway, and I hope that I did not take payment with "greyhound puppies", but with "evergreen" ones?
  6. dub0vitsky Offline dub0vitsky
    dub0vitsky (Victor) 27 February 2022 20: 16
    Quote: Bulanov
    This is how they will burn all the fuel on the planet, competing with each other with weapons, and then hunger-cold will begin and only the rich, armed with gangs, will scour the remnants of civilization. Just like they show in Hollywood. It would be better if they explored space together, as Efremov and the Strugatskys bequeathed.

    And who to drive in space? Pokémon? And what to do there? To pick the ore and carry it to the Earth? I read fiction. So you live in a virtual world.