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For the third time this year, a Navy destroyer enters the Barents Sea

Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross approach the British tanker RFA Tidespring for a replenishment-at-sea in the Barents Sea, Sept. 9, 2020. The ship has returned to the Arctic, marking the third time this year that U.S. Navy destroyers have operated in the Barents Sea.

CHRISTINE MONTGOMERY/U.S. NAVY

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 20, 2020

STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. has once again sent a warship into the Barents Sea in what is becoming the new normal this year as Navy surface vessels navigate waters not visited since the height of the Cold War.

The USS Ross entered the Barents Sea on Monday, the Navy said. The Russian navy happens to be conducting military drills in the Barents this week.

“This Barents Sea mission marks a significant milestone, clearly demonstrating our dynamic ability to operate anywhere in the world,” said Cmdr. John D. John, Ross’ commanding officer, in a statement Tuesday. “These operations demonstrate the commitment of our crew to transatlantic stability and security.”

The Ross’ transit into the Barents — the third this year for Navy destroyers — comes as the Navy steps up activities in the Arctic, where Russia has invested heavily in recent years and China has declared itself a power with economic interests.

The Navy sees operating in the Barents Sea as “normal activity” akin to routine operations in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas, said Cmdr. Kyle Raines, spokesman for 6th Fleet.

“We must operate and train in every environment in order to ensure a secure, stable and prosperous region,” Raines said.

Before heading into the Barents Sea, the USS Ross took part in the U.K.-led Exercise Joint Warrior, the Navy’s 6th Fleet said in a statement.

“The lessons learned during this high-end warfare training, along with previous Arctic experience, ensures the readiness of the crew to execute the entire spectrum of maritime operations across the maritime domain,” the statement said.

The Navy re-entered the Barents Sea in May for the first time since the mid-1980s, drawing complaints from Russia.

On Tuesday, as the USS Ross entered the area, the Russian navy announced that it was doing drills of its own in the Barents. Russia deployed a frigate from its Northern Fleet for anti-submarine warfare drills, Russia’s Tass news agency reported Tuesday. The drills were expected to last several days.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver