Coast Guard’s tasks grow with Arctic traffic – USATODAY.com

Interesting article on USATODAY.com By Barbara Slavin

WASHINGTON — When the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard thinks of future trouble spots, his focus is increasingly to the north — the vast waters around a melting polar ice cap.

Once almost totally inaccessible to shipping and oil drilling, the region poses new opportunities for economic activity, as well as new challenges for those who patrol its frigid seas.

“If you go into a life raft 20 miles off the coast of North Carolina, chances are you are going to see the Coast Guard in a few hours,” Adm. Thad Allen says. “If you go into life rafts at the edge of the Arctic ice cap, there are questions about when you should expect help to arrive.”

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