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Naval vessels from U.S., Britain, Norway train together in Arctic Ocean

The British Navy ship RFA Tidespring, pictured, is one of four ships from Britain, the United States and Norway participating in a maritime exercise this week in the Arctic Ocean's Barents Sea. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
The British Navy ship RFA Tidespring, pictured, is one of four ships from Britain, the United States and Norway participating in a maritime exercise this week in the Arctic Ocean's Barents Sea. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Navy ships joined British and Norwegian counterparts this week for maritime exercises above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea, the Navy announced.

Led by the British Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Ross united with ​​the Royal Navy frigate HMS Sutherland, the civilian-manned British Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishing tanker Tidespring and the Royal Norwegian frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl for exercises, according to the Navy.

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The ships are being supported by Danish patrol aircraft, officials said.

"They will operate in sub-zero conditions to further enhance our understanding of the challenging environment while helping to maintain peace in the region," the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Tuesday.

It added that the operation demonstrates the "commitment of the UK and its allies to freedom of access and navigation in the region."

The Barents Sea is an arm of the Arctic Ocean of the northern coasts of Norway and Russia, and divided between Norwegian and Russian territorial waters. The British statement emphasized the open and transparent nature of the exercise.

​​"Our maritime advantage continues to be our strong, cohesive partnerships," Vice Adm. Gene Black said in a press release.

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"Our forces are able to conduct sustained operations in the vital waterways in the Arctic because of the support and cooperation of our international partners, allowing us to be present together where and when it matters," said Black, commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, which is an element of U.S. naval forces operating in Europe.

On Saturday, the Russian National Defense Control Center said that Russian fighter planes intercepted and turned away a Norwegian patrol aircraft over the Barents Sea for the third consecutive day.

A MiG-31 fighter with Russia's Northern Fleet air defense unit identified the aircraft as a P-3S Orion maritime surveillance aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

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