After Russia and Canada, U.S. ship headed for Arctic

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After Russia and Canada, U.S. ship headed for Arctic

After Russia and Canada, U.S. ship headed for Arctic
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
Mon Aug 13, 5:41 PM ET

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter is headed to the Arctic this week on a mapping mission to determine whether part of this area can be considered U.S. territory, after recent polar forays by Russia and Canada.

The four-week cruise of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy starts Friday and aims to map the sea floor on the northern Chukchi Cap, an underwater plateau that extends from Alaska's North Slope some 500 miles northward.

This is the third such U.S. Arctic mapping cruise -- others were in 2003 and 2004 -- and is not a response to a Russian mission this month to place a flag at the North Pole seabed, or a newly announced Canadian plan for an Arctic port, U.S. scientists said.

"This cruise was planned for three years and we've had the earlier cruises; this is part of a long and ongoing program, not at all a direct response," said Larry Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, who will be on the voyage.

So why are the countries with Arctic coastlines all heading northward now?

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