Story at a glance

  • Northern Sea Route, which might prove to be a vital global trade pipeline, could be free of ice blockage in nearly 30 years.
  • The Republican governor points out the major question of how the United States will prepare for the potential shift in the dynamics in international trade.
  • Dunleavy warned that the crisis should be approached with a sense of urgency and that this is a problem that cannot wait years for an action plan.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) warned Americans in the wake of the massive Suez Canal blockage not to take their eyes off the Arctic. 

The potential financial fallout brought about by the Ever Given freighter, which clogged the Suez Canal for nearly a week, could have held up nearly $400 million per hour in international trade, according to analysts at the German insurer Allianz. 

But Dunleavy argues that despite the financial ramifications of halted trade, a greater threat may loom in the near future. In fact, “this marvel of engineering could be rendered obsolete,” according to Dunleavy. 

Dunleavy wrote in an Op-Ed for The Daily Caller — a conservative news website — that the Northern Sea Route, which might prove to be a vital global trade pipeline, could be free of ice blockage in nearly 30 years. This, according to Dunleavy, could cut “transits between Northwest Europe and the Far East by 40%.” Likewise, a new major point of transit might also diminish the need for the Panama Canal, Dunleavy wrote. 


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The Republican governor points out the major question of how the United States will prepare for the potential shift in the dynamics in international trade. 

“As the governor of Alaska — our nation’s only Arctic state — the importance of this region is not lost on me, but how will America defend the Arctic? Already, China and Russia have staked claims in the region and begun building Arctic fleets and infrastructure.” 

Further, according to Dunleavy, the U.S. must increase preparedness in shipping capabilities. 

“As Russian nuclear heavy icebreakers take to the water and Cold War installations reopen, the Coast Guard continues to operate a single, barely functional icebreaker that is not set to be replaced until 2024. Even China, who has declared itself a 'near-Arctic' nation, operates more ice-hardened ships.”

Dunleavy warned that the crisis should be approached with a sense of urgency and that this is a problem that cannot wait years for an action plan. Yet, the Alaska governor, noting the central role his state might play, expressed optimism — citing the military recruitment of troops who prefer cold weather stations. Still, Dunleavy argues that may not be enough if the U.S. is to compete with Russia and China for the potentially vital trade route and recommends they should focus on a port near the Bering Strait and a “fleet of ice hardened vessels.” 

“A century ago, Gen. Billy Mitchell told Congress that Alaska would one day stand at the crossroads of the world,” Dunleavy wrote. “As our planet evolves and trade patterns shift, Mitchell’s statement becomes more prescient with each passing day.”


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Published on Apr 07, 2021