The United States has no major deep-water port from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands to the U.S.-Canada border in the Beaufort Sea, a region defined in federal law as the U.S. maritime Arctic. This presents a major strategic challenge for the nation. The distance by sea from Dutch Harbor to Prudhoe Bay, located on Alaska’s North Slope, is 1,535 nautical miles—along a remote and shallow coastline with few deep-water areas. There is no safe harbor along the entire western and northern coasts of Alaska where a major combatant, Coast Guard icebreaker (or large cutter), NOAA survey ship, or any other deep-draft government or commercial ship can moor alongside a wharf.
The absence of a deep-draft Arctic port and associated marine infrastructure is a glaring gap in the United States’ ability to respond to greater marine access and activity at the top of the world. Every other Arctic coastal state, including Canada, Iceland, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, and Russia, has at least one port where a large, deep-draft ship, such as a commercial resupply carrier or naval vessel, can safely moor during Arctic operations.