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US, Royal Navy ships cross Arctic Circle for joint training

Photo: Royal Navy

US Navy ships from the Europe-based US 6th Fleet (C6F) carried out a bilateral naval anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise with the Royal Navy, above the Arctic Circle, on May 1.

Four ships from two nations, a US submarine, and a US P8-A worked together in the Norwegian Sea, to conduct training in the challenging conditions in the Arctic.

For the exercise, Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and USS Porter (DDG 78), and fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6), were joined by the Royal Navy’s HMS Kent (F 78). Additionally, a US submarine, as well as a P8-A Poseidon multi-mission maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 supported the training. This exercise reinforces the combined training that the nations received last month while participating in the UK’s Submarine Command Course (SMCC).

The multinational antisubmarine exercise in the High North, made up of approximately 1,200 sailors from the US Navy and Royal Navy, is the latest in a series of US ships operating above the Arctic Circle. In 2018, elements of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group operated above the Arctic Circle in support of NATO exercise Trident Juncture. In 2019, the forward deployed destroyer USS Donald Cook and a SAG from US 2nd Fleet led by USS Normandy (CG 60) and USS Farragut (DDG 99) also operated separately above the Arctic Circle.

“One of the best attributes of our surface force is that we can aggregate at will, transitioning seamlessly from independent ships to coordinated operations,” said Capt. Joseph A. Gagliano, Commander, Task Force 65, commander, Destroyer Squadron 60. “Our interoperability with our allies is so good that we can deploy multinational naval forces with minimal notice. That’s the real power of NATO.”

Lieutenant Georgia Harding, HMS Kent’s principal warfare officer for underwater warfare, said: “This exercise is the culmination of a high intensity period of anti-submarine warfare training that has seen a step change in HMS Kent’s readiness to conduct operations. Being able to work with US Navy ships, submarines and aircraft is an excellent opportunity to further hone our skills in a challenging environment.”