The two nuclear-powered submarines participating in the Ice Exercise event have released several training torpedoes, Military.com reported March 20. The torpedoes did not carry warheads and had a "minimal" amount of fuel, the news outlet said.
The main objective of testing the torpedos is to "test under-ice weapons systems and validate tactics for weapon employment," Ryan Dropek, a weapons tester for the US Navy, said in a March 19 news release.
By sending divers to recover the torpedoes, the Navy can "extract important data about how they perform and react in these conditions," Dropek noted.
Washington's Navy plans to significantly expand its presence in the Arctic at the start of the next decade as polar ice caps melt away and the navigable ocean grows. "The Arctic is all about operating forward and being ready. We don't think we're going to do warfighting up there, but we have to be ready," Rear Admiral Jonathan White said in 2014.
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"As far as I'm concerned, the Navy and Coast Guard's area of responsibility is growing," White said, noting that "we're growing a new ocean."
There are significant natural resource deposits in the Arctic and potential for commercial fishing as ice shelves dwindle. The value of hydrocarbon reserves in the region is estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion.