Thule Air Base in Greenland, the U.S.’s northernmost military installation, has been renamed Pituffik Space Base.
U.S. officials says the new name is an important nod both to the base’s ties to Greenland and its people, as well as its importance within the U.S. Space Force.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Greenland and Denmark for their partnership and friendship over the years,” Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, said in a news release.
“Today marks a new chapter in our shared history, one in which we recognize and celebrate the contributions and traditions of this land and its people. Together the men and women of Pituffik Space Base and our Greenlandic and Danish partners will ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous future both in space and above the Arctic Circle.”
Example of a “great nation” listening to “even their smallest neighbors,” says Greenland’s FM
Greenland’s Foreign Affairs Business, and Trade Minister Vivian Motzfeldt attended the April 6 renaming ceremony at the base along with the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Alan Leventhal.
“I hope that this day will serve as an example of the ability of great nations to listen to even their smallest neighbors,” Motzfeldt said.
“The U.S. has proclaimed to the world, that here lies Pituffik Space Base, where even this far north, there is a people, and they have a name for the place from where we keep watch over all our peoples.”
Leventhal said the ceremony highlighted decades of U.S., Greenlandic and Danish cooperation in the North.
“For seventy years, Thule Air Force Base has maintained peace in the Arctic, it’s conducted scientific research, it’s been part of the community,” he said in a video address posted on Twitter.
The frigid temperatures on the ground were no match for the warmth of the friendship shared today at the Pituffik Space Base renaming ceremony. Thank you to @SpaceForceDoD for playing host and for welcoming me and all the very special visitors who joined for the event. 🇺🇸🇩🇰🇬🇱… pic.twitter.com/1HMp05krNa
— Ambassador Alan Leventhal (@USAmbDenmark) April 6, 2023
The establishment of the base goes back to the Cold War when it was constructed in secret starting in 1951. It was completed in 1953.
The site was chosen because it was at the mid-point between New York and Moscow and was the quickest way between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the North Pole.
Nowadays, the base supports space-based missions, has a deep-water port and a 10,000 foot runway.
The U.S. Space Force was established in 2019 and is organized under the Department of the Air Force.
The space force’s mission is to focus on protecting American and allied interests in space,by training, equipping and providing space-related services to other parts of the military.
When it was created, the Department of Defense announced that Air Force installations would be reviewed, and like Thule Air Base was this month, be redesignated as Space Force bases.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
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Finland: Norway, Finland, Sweden prioritize North in updated statement, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Norway buys 54 Leopards for protection of the North, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Putin’s hope for Sarmat missile launch from Plesetsk failed, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Kiruna pivots from underground to outer space, Blog by Mia Bennett
United States: U.S. Coast Guard talks Arctic at recent summit, Eye on the Arctic