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US sub USS Washington visits Norway

USS Washington in Norway
USS Washington (SSN 787) visiting Norway. Photo: Norwegian defense ministry

US Navy’s Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) has visited the Tromsø harbor in Norway’s north, becoming the second US nuclear-powered sub to visit the port since May last year.

USS Washington pulled into Tromsø on January 11, escorted into port by Norwegian Coast Guard ship KV Heimdal and a CB90 fast assault boat, as well as civilian tugs.

The Norwegian defense ministry noted that the presence of allied vessels in Norwegian waters was important for the security of both the nation and NATO.

This is the second time in as many years that a nuclear-powered submarine has docked in Tromsø. USS New Mexico was the first with a visit in May last year.

Visits of nuclear-powered submarines to Norway haven’t been common since the closure of the Olavsvern base in 2008. The Bond-style underground base used to host as many as 10 or 12 such port calls yearly. French and British submarines also regularly visited Tromsø at that time.

The industrial port in Grøtsundet has now been chosen as the port of call, mainly because it is the most suitable port in northern Norway for receiving allied vessels. Such high-profile visits usually include the involvement of multiple state agencies as well as private companies. The Army, Navy and Air Force, joined by local authorities, have been preparing for several days for the visit of the American submarine.

USS Washington is expected to remain in Tromsø until January 14, at least that is the duration of a NOTAM warning (Notice to Airmen), which establishes a no-fly zone in the vicinity of the port the submarine is visiting.

The submarine is visiting Norway after getting underway from its Norfolk homeport for a deployment to the North Atlantic in August last year. In late October, the submarine pulled into Faslane, Scotland, and resumed operations after a nine-day stay.

This is USS Washington’s second operational deployment after the boat entered service in 2017.