US Navy's nuclear powered submarine USS Delaware visits Faroe Islands for first time

According to information published by the US DoD on June 26, 2023, the USS Delaware (SSN 790), a Virginia-class fast attack submarine, made its way to Tórshavn, Faroe Islands for a pre-planned stopover.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Virginia class fast attack submarine USS Delaware. (Picture source: US DoD)

This event is significant as it marks the first time a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine has docked at the Faroe Islands. The stopover in Tórshavn follows a similar short visit by the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) in August 2022.

The Delaware’s arrival comes at a time when the United States and Russia continue to experience heightened tensions, particularly surrounding Arctic naval operations. As both nations vie for influence in the region, this port visit is seen as a tangible manifestation of the U.S.' strategic interest in the North Atlantic.

The United States has been increasingly focusing its efforts on maintaining stability in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, areas that have seen growing Russian military presence.

Last August, the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) made a brief stop for personnel in Tórshavn, demonstrating the U.S. Navy's continuing operations in the area.

US-Russia dispute over Arctic oceans

Russia, with the largest Arctic coastline, has been particularly assertive. It has invested heavily in military infrastructure in the region, including new bases, ports, and icebreakers.

Moscow has also stepped up its military exercises and submarine operations in the Arctic, which U.S. officials view as a clear effort to establish dominance in the region.

The United States, for its part, has been increasing its own naval operations in the Arctic and has been working closely with allies to counter Russia's advances.

There are also legal disputes at play. Both Russia and the U.S. are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which allows nations to extend their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) into the continental shelf. Russia has made extensive territorial claims in the Arctic, some of which are contested by the U.S. and other nations.