USS Hartford and USS Hampton on March 14 arrived at Ice Camp Sargo, a temporary station constructed on a floating sheet of ice the U.S. Navy built for this year’s Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016.
Groton-based Hartford and San Diego-based Hampton will conduct multiple arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training evolutions during their time in the region.
ICEX 2016, which started March 2, is a five-week exercise designed to assess the operational readiness of the submarine force while also continuing to advance scientific research in the arctic region. The Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory, based in San Diego, serves as the lead organization for coordinating, planning and executing the exercise involving two submarines, multiple nations and more than 200 participants.
Commander Scott Luers, ice camp officer-in-tactical-command and deputy director of operations for Commander Submarine Forces in Norfolk, said: “Submarine operations as part of ICEX provide the necessary training to maintain a working knowledge of an extremely challenging region that is very different than any other ocean in the world. Navigating, communicating and maneuvering are all different in an arctic environment as there are surfaces both above and below a submarine.”
The U.S. Navy said submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic region for more than 50 years. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first transit in 1958. USS Skate (SSN 578) was the first U.S. submarine to surface through arctic ice at the North Pole in March, 1959. USS Sargo (SSN 583), which the temporary ice camp is named after, was the first submarine to make a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960.
Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 26 Arctic exercises.