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UK names fourth Poseidon MPA in honor of Iceland’s role in Battle of Atlantic

Poseidon P-8A
The fourth RAF Poseidon will be delivered on November 3, 2020. Photo: Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force announced that its fourth Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft would be named Spirit of Reykjavik, in honor of the role played by Iceland during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Spirit of Reykjavik will arrive from the US, where it was built by Boeing, at Royal Air Force base Lossiemouth on November 3.

During World War II a lack of range prevented RAF coastal command aircraft and crews from covering the North Atlantic ocean from their stations in the UK. In the area they couldn’t patrol, wolf packs of German U-boat submarines wreaked havoc on the Allied ships bringing essential food and supplies to the UK, without which it could not have carried on the war effort. The introduction of the long-range B-24 Liberator bomber and a new airfield, seaplane base and refueling port at Reykjavik which extended the range of RAF aircraft and Royal Navy escort vessels, had almost immediate effect as the German submariners lost their immunity from air attack in the North Atlantic air gap.

Consolidated Liberator GR.IIIs of 120 Squadron rounding the mountains of Iceland after taking off from Reykjavik to escort an Arctic convoy. Photo: Air Historical Branch

Number 120 (‘CXX’) Squadron, which has been selected to be the first RAF Poseidon squadron, deployed a flight of seven Liberators to RAF Reykjavik on September 4, 1942. The Squadron, in its entirety, was based there between April 1943 and March 1944 before returning to the UK to help protect domestic sea lanes in the build up to D-day.

“The connection between RAF maritime flying and Iceland is particularly significant for CXX Squadron. The anti-submarine warfare tactics we use today can be traced to those developed by CXX Squadron and other RAF units during the missions flown from Reykjavik. We look forward to rekindling the warm relationship between the RAF maritime aviation community and the people of Iceland.”

The Royal is expected to receive all of the nine Poseidon aircraft by the end of 2021. They will be responsible for sea patrol missions, hunting potentially hostile submarines and helping defend the Royal Navy’s nuclear deterrent Vanguard-class submarines. Poseidons can carry up to 129 sonobuoys to search for enemy submarines and can be armed with Mk54 torpedoes if required to attack enemy submarines. The air force declared an initial operational capability for the aircraft in April this year.