The Royal Navy has led a multi-national task group of warships and aircraft into the Arctic Circle for the first time in more than 20 years.
According to a news release from the Royal Navy, the operation is designed to demonstrate freedom of navigation above the Arctic Circle.
“HMS Sutherland, supported by RFA Tidespring, commanded a task group comprising the United States Navy’ destroyer USS Ross and the Norwegian frigate Thor Heyerdahl on a deployment to the Barents Sea. The ships undertook training with each other to further develop working together while asserting the nations’ commitment to upholding peace in the region.
The High North is witnessing a change in its security environment and represents a key area of interest for the UK. Recent Russian attempts to control freedom of access and navigation in the region are of concern to the UK and its partners.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“The UK is the closest neighbour to the Arctic states. In addition to preserving UK interests we have a responsibility to support our Arctic allies such as Norway to preserve the security and stability of the region. It is vital to preserve freedom of navigation when melting ice caps are creating new shipping lanes and increasing the risk of states looking to militarise and monopolise international borders.”
More than 1,200 military personnel from four nations took part, supported by US P-8 Poseidon and Danish Challenger Maritime Patrol Aircraft along with RAF Typhoons and a Voyager refuelling tanker.
This, say the MoD, is the first time the UK has operated Typhoons in the High North.