Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant has broken through the metre-thick ice of the Arctic Ocean to join two American submarines on major exercise.


Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The Arctic Ocean is one of the harshest and most challenging environments on earth. The ability of our submarines to operate with our US allies here demonstrates the Royal Navy is always on hand and ready to defend our nation anywhere in the world from the most severe threats no matter the conditions.”

ICEX 2018 is a five-week exercise that allows US and allied submarines to assess operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region and advance understanding of the Arctic environment.

The Seawolf class fast attack submarine USS Connecticut, the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford and Trafalgar class submarine HMS Trenchant will conduct multiple arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training evolutions during their time in the region.

“With every ICEX we are able to build upon our existing experience and continue to learn the best way to operate in this unique and harsh environment,” said Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfare Development Center (UWDC).

“We are constantly testing new tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) under the ice, and this exercise allows us to do so on a larger scale and alongside our UK, joint and academic partners.”

A Royal Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft delivering supplies and personnel flies over Ice Camp Skate during camp build during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018.

Ice Camp Skate is a temporary ice camp that was established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean, known as an ice floe. Skate will serve as a temporary command center for conducting submarine operations, including under-ice navigation and torpedo exercises.

The US Navy say that the camp consists of shelters, a command center and infrastructure to safely house and support more than 50 personnel at any one time.

“Our Arctic Submarine Laboratory team has been working for over a year to ensure our Submarine Force is able to conduct dynamic torpedo and under-ice operations in this unique environment,” says Larry Estrada, director of ASL.

“This year’s camp is prepared to support the force with communication and weapons recovery.”


  1. Billion that is precisely why we need to get the construction of a further 3-4 astute class 2nd batch ordered. Putin’s Russia have openly declared they want to have numerically the 2 or 3rd largest navy in the world by 2027. The hills they are building are multirole frigates and Corvettes. All armed with anti ship and cruise missiles.
    Then Russia is proliferating its new series of very quiet conventional powered subs kilo 2 series and attack and ballistic subs to replace their Soviet era designs.
    Summary more astutes needed, a large type 31 frigate order 8-10 hulls+ revert back to 13 type 26 and order a further 6 Poseidon mpas.
    Yes this will require uplift in royal navy manpower by 4000 personnel to take it back to orca SDSR 2010 levels as well as political will to accept defence cuts have gone to far and we need to revert back to 3-3.5% GDP to defence ratio as a progressive stepwise approach over the next 2 years so 2.5% now, 3% in 2019, 3.5% in 2020.
    Efficiency cut top brass posts by 75% do we need an Admiral, commodore or senior captain for every vessel in the navy or a brigadeier, general for every battalion in the army or wing commander for every RAF squadron.
    Answer is no.
    Unless there are positions vacant then carer officers should not be promoted.
    Mandarins in Whitehall cut them by 50%.
    Defence procurement programmes need much better contract management so BAE systems and other contractors sign in blood to deliver a project on time and in budget, any cost overruns fall to the company. After all BAE systems are a multiple billion pound profit making company, they can afford to take a haircut if they get defence procurement wrong.
    Type 31 programme might just prove that tough procurement management is the only way forward.


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