Flashpoints

US Navy surface ships enter the Barents Sea for the first time since mid-1980s

Four U.S. Navy ships and a U.K. Royal Navy ship sailed into frigid Arctic waters of the Barents Sea on May 4 to conduct maritime security operations.

It’s the first time a U.S. Navy surface ship has operated in the Barents Sea since the mid-1980s, according to a Navy news release.

The ships participating in the maritime operation in the Arctic include the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers Donald Cook, Porter and Roosevelt, supported by the Supply-class fast combat support ship Supply (T-AOE 6), the release said.

The American surface ships were joined by the U.K.'s Type 23 Duke class frigate HMS Kent.

“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we maintain our steady drumbeat of operations across the European theater, while taking prudent measures to protect the health of our force,” Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, said in the release.

“We remain committed to promoting regional security and stability, while building trust and reinforcing a foundation of Arctic readiness," Franchetti said.

The Navy said the Russian Ministry of Defense was notified of the Barents Sea “visit” on Friday to prevent “misperceptions, reduce risk, and prevent inadvertent escalation.”

The Porter, Donald Cook and Kent recently wrapped up an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Norwegian Sea, the release detailed. In April, Porter was operating in the Black Sea.

The operation in the Barents Sea follows several intercepts between Russian and U.S. aircraft over the last two months.

F-22s on several occasions between March and April have intercepted Russian reconnaissance aircraft operating new Alaska. In March, the Russian aircraft were spying on a U.S. submarine exercise near Alaska known as ICEX.

In April, a Russian jet buzzed a Navy P-8 Poseidon over the Mediterranean Sea.

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