AS the northern anchor of America's ramparts in the Pacific, Alaska is destined to play a stellar strategic rôle in the defense of this hemisphere.[i] Present plans call for the expenditure of some $50,000,000 to create or enlarge Army air fields, naval air bases, submarine bases and other military installations in various parts of the Territory. Of this sum, $34,325,000 has already been appropriated, $17,200,000 for the Army and $17,125,000 for the Navy. But these preparations will be of little value unless Alaska is connected with the States by dependable means of transport easily defensible and available all the year round. Practically everything consumed by the Territory's inhabitants, whether civilian or military, is now being imported; and this condition is bound to continue, at least as far as arms, munitions and general military supplies are concerned. The problem of improving and making secure our lines of communications with Alaska is therefore one of great importance and urgency.
At present, all traffic between the United States and Alaska must go by sea -- except for such mail, freight and passengers as are carried from Seattle by Pan American Airways or from Edmonton and Vancouver by Yukon Southern.
The north coast of Alaska may be considered open for navigation during three months -- July, August and September. In only some ten of the fifty-odd years since 1889 have vessels been able to round Point Barrow before July 1; while in two or three of those years the ice either entirely failed to move away from Barrow or moved so late that ships had ceased trying to get through. The coast southwest from Barrow to Point Hope usually opens a little earlier and closes a little later.
At Nome, on the west coast south of the Bering Strait, the first ordinary steamers arrive sometime during May and the last ones usually leave between October 25 and November 5. But Nome is only an open roadstead. The harbor of Port Clarence -- spacious enough to accommodate the entire United States Fleet,
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