Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant has broken through the ice of the North Pole with two US submarines to bring Ice Exercise 18 to an end.
A few weeks after punching through the ice off Alaska, the hunter-killer submarine emerged at the top of the world some 2,750 miles from – and 37 degrees Celsius colder than – her home base of Plymouth.
Trenchant joined the USS Connecticut and USS Hartford for the drills, co-ordinated by the US Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory, and broke through the ice at the North Pole five times. The demanding trials are designed to test submariners’ skills in operating in the frigid climate of the Arctic Circle.
Minister for Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said: “This exercise shows that our Royal Navy is primed and ready to operate in the harshest conditions imaginable, to protect our nation from any potential threats.
“I was recently on board HMS Trenchant while she was under the ice and saw first-hand the skill and precision with which they worked alongside our US allies.”
The ice exercise allows the submariners to test a range of equipment, notably sonar, against live ‘targets’ and to practice tracking and simulating attacks against other submarines.
Exercises such as this are vital in maintaining the operational readiness of the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet and in maintaining the security of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
And while professional cricketers in the UK bemoaned the weather which stalled the opening of the county championship, the crew of HMS Trenchant even had chance to grab bat and ball for a few overs at the North Pole.
Commander David Burrell, the Commanding Officer of HMS Trenchant, said: “This ice exercise has been excellent and very well conducted. The Royal Navy operates all across the globe acting on behalf of Britain’s interests. That includes being able to successfully operate and conduct warfighting beneath the ice cap.
“It’s a vital skill which we have been honing over these last few weeks and I couldn’t be more proud of my sailors for their excellent work.”