- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2020

Four U.S. and British Navy ships on Monday entered the Barents Sea, just north of Russia, in a joint mission to conduct maritime security operations above the Arctic Circle, the U.S. 6th Fleet announced.

The move marks the first time since the mid-1980s that U.S. Navy surface ships have entered the Barents sea.

“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we maintain our steady drumbeat of operations across the European theater, while taking prudent measures to protect the health of our force,” said Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, in a statement.

“We remain committed to promoting regional security and stability, while building trust and reinforcing a foundation of Arctic readiness.”

Russia is reportedly monitoring the movement just north of their border, Interfax news agency reported.

The U.S. Navy said it had notified the Russian Defense Ministry of the operation on May 1 “in an effort to avoid misperceptions, reduce risk, and prevent inadvertent escalation.”

The ships involved in the mission include three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — USS Cook, USS Porter, USS Roosevelt, and are supported by fast combat support ship USNS Supply.

The fleet is joined by the Royal Navy’s HMS Kent “to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies,” the Navy said.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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