The US 6th Fleet has reported that its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) completed its latest mission on 16 October, which took place in the Artic. According to a 6th Fleet Public Affairs office statement, the destroyer was conducting a routine maritime security patrol to "monitor Russian maritime activity" above the Arctic Circle.
Along with USS Donald Cook, another destroyer of the same class, USS Farragut (DDG-99) and guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy were patrolling above the Arctic Circle in September this year. Vice Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti, commander of the 6th Fleet noted that such patrols allow the US Navy to be prepared to "deter and […] defeat aggression" if needed without specifying by which state or actor.
"The US 6th Fleet must be ready to conduct the full range of naval operations throughout the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. This includes being prepared at the operational and tactical levels, in concert with our allies, partners, and joint forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat aggression", Franchetti said.
Washington has long opposed Russia's efforts to expand its activities, both scientific and military, in the Arctic region, despite Moscow's request to the UN to extend the borders of its continental shelf in the north, which is successfully navigating the approval process. Russia seeks to explore the Arctic's gas and oil reserves, as well as to turn it to a major trading route, possibly connecting it to China's Belt and Road initiative.
The US is considering building a military base in the far north of Alaska to counter Russia in the Arctic under the 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act. However, the US lacks icebreaker ships to freely operate in the Arctic's waters, with only one functional at the moment.