Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Hudner joined Canadian, French and Danish forces for an Arctic training mission, the Navy announced.
Nanook-Tuugaalik 2020, the maritime component of an annual training exercise in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, is sponsored by the Canadian armed forces. The event involves the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, the Canadian armed forces, the Royal Dutch Navy and the French navy, even though France is not an Arctic country.
The three-week drill tests interoperational capabilities in harsh environments, as well as basic war-fighting skills, according to officials.
The event is the "Canadian armed forces' signature northern operation, comprising a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise the defense of Canada and security in the region," a U.S. Navy statement said on Tuesday.
The exercise will involve five warships and additional replenishment vessels.
The Arctic region, which includes eight countries, has renewed geopolitical interest because climate change has made some areas newly accessible. Russia has embarked on rebuilding its cold-weather military capability, and China has begun building military icebreaker ships, although it has no border in the region.
However, NATO has previously expressed interest in seeing its members gain experience in navigating ice-choked maritime passages, and in 2017 produced a policy assessment on the security of the region.
"The message is the Arctic is strategically important, it's becoming increasingly important and it's important for our collective national security," said Vice-Adm. Steven Poulin, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard's Atlantic area, during a Tuesday teleconference prior to the exercise.