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For the first time since 1817, U.S. Coast Guard vessels on the Great Lakes are being outfitted with weapons – machine-guns capable of firing 600 bullets a minute.
Until now, coast guard officers have been armed with handguns and rifles, but the vessels themselves haven't been equipped with weapons.
U.S. sub may have toured Canadian Arctic zone
A U.S. nuclear submarine cruised through the Arctic Ocean last month -- probably passing through Canadian territorial waters -- but the federal government is refusing to say whether it gave permission for the voyage.
However, experts say it is highly unlikely Canada was even notified of the USS Charlotte's northern tour, which included a Nov. 10 stop at the North Pole, because it has no way of tracking what goes on beneath the Arctic ice.
And that could threaten Canada's claim to hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of the North, including the Northwest Passage route across the Arctic, said Michael Byers, who holds the Canada research chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia.
"This is very important -- it's crucial," he said. "Any unauthorized passage could have a serious effect on our claim."
Canadian military plans summer Arctic mission
Canada may be pulling back from overseas military commitments, but is planning to "flex its muscles" with an exercise on home soil by sending a warship, a squadron of helicopters and 200 troops to the high Arctic this summer.
News of the operation was reported in Saturday's edition of The National Post.
The military says the three-week long exercise has nothing to do with a brewing territorial dispute with Denmark over the ownership of a tiny island between Ellesesmere Island and Greenland.
The operation, code-mamed Narwhal, is the first time the military will have a joint naval, air and land force operating so far north.