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Exercising under the ice

November 13, 2013

The US Navy is planning Arctic exercises in the Spring of 2014. US subs routinely ferry between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Arctic Ocean.

As reported by AP, Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry, commander of all U.S. attack submarines based on the East Coast, said in an interview that the exercises offer vital training in a strategically important area with harsh, frigid conditions that present challenges unlike any other ocean. U.S. maritime strategy is founded on ensuring it can go where it needs to go “without a permission slip” and the submarine is the only vessel that can operate year-round in the Arctic. But he described the relationship with other nations there generally as one of cooperation.

The U.S. attack submarines on the East Coast are based in Groton, Conn.One of the Virginia-class attack boats is being prepared for the next Ice Exercise. Each sub has a crew of 120 enlisted men and 14 officers.

The US Navy just launched its latest Virginia-class sub the U.S.S. North Dakota. The North Dakota is the first in the third block of eight Virginia-class submarines the Navy is ordering. It is the first to have a redesigned bow with a new sonar array and two larger payload tubes instead of 12 individual vertical launch missile tubes. The design was simplified to save about $100 million per submarine. The North Dakota will join the fleet and officially will become the USS North Dakota when it is commissioned in May.

In 2011 the USS Connecticut and the brand-new Virginia-class sub New Hampshire sailed north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, for one of the Navy’s infrequent “ICEX” exercises, begun after the submarine USS Nautilus, in 1958, became the first undersea boat to reach the North Pole.


There is little economic in the North impact from submarine exercises. These ships spend their time underwater and can stay submerged for months at a time. Who knew there were subs under there ?



USS Connecticut in the Arctic in 2011. Source:US Navy.