The U.S. Navy, in cooperation with British and Canadian partners, started its biennial ICEX (Ice Exercise) 2018 in the Arctic Ocean this week.
ICEX is a five-week exercise that involves the Navy testing its operational readiness in the Arctic while training in the region and working with allies and partners. It notably features several submarine transits.
The exercise began when the Navy built temporary Ice Camp Skate and three submarines arrived: the Seawolf-class USS Connecticut (SSN-22) Los Angeles-class USS Hartford (SSN-768), and the UK Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class HMS Trenchant (S91).
The vessels plan to conduct several arctic transits, the first North Pole surfacing through the ice in years, collect scientific data, and conduct other training.
The temporary ice camp is constructed on an ice floe and serves as a temporary command center. It includes shelters, a command center, and infrastructure to safely house and support more than 50 personnel at a time. It is named after the USS Skate (SSN-578), the first submarine to surface through open water surrounded by ice in 1958 and the first to surface through the arctic ice at the North Pole in 1959.
The Undersea Warfare Development Center (UWDC) said in every ICEX the Navy builds on its experience to better operate in the Arctic.
The Navy’s Arctic Submarine Lab (ASL) in San Diego is the lead organization to coordinate, plan, and execute the exercise among the three countries’ navies.