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UK carrier HMS Prince of Wales en route to Norway for exercise Cold Response

HMS Prince of Wales Cold Response
Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Prince of Wales, one of two Royal Navy aircraft carriers, departed Portsmouth en route to Norway, where it will lead a NATO task force to the Arctic for the biggest exercises in Norway for 30 years.

Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales deploys in her role as NATO’s command ship to exercise Cold Response, the large-scale Norwegian-led maneuver which will see 35,000 troops from 28 nations operate together in the harshest environment.

The UK carrier is set to be joined by its US counterpart, USS Harry S. Truman, for a month of amphibious operations.

Prince of Wales is responsible for leading NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task group formed to deal with major global events – and deploys for the first time in that role to Cold Response.

Aboard the carrier are the most senior sea-going staff in the Royal Navy – Commander UK Strike Force, headed by Rear Admiral Mike Utley, who will lead a sizeable task force as part of a galvanized NATO effort for peace and stability in Europe.

Rear Admiral Utley said: “NATO is the cornerstone of the UK defence and our commitment to the alliance is absolute.

“It is a privilege to be the UK Maritime Component Commander as we participate in this Norwegian-led exercise.”

Prince of Wales will be at the head of a maritime task force, which, alongside aircraft and land forces – including Royal Marines Commandos – will show how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe’s northern flank from a modern adversary.

Around the aircraft carrier will be a protective ring of steel made up of warships, aircraft, a nuclear-powered attack submarine and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment vessel. Together they will defend Prince of Wales against threats above, below and on the waves throughout her high north deployment.

Cold Response will also be the first time one of the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers has operated in the Arctic.

As we wrote earlier, Cold Response 2022 will mainly take place in south-eastern Norway, central Norway and the northern parts of the country. The exercise will test air, sea and land elements, and Norway offers excellent arenas to train realistically in all of these domains.

This year, the exercise will focus on amphibious operations, facilitated by more than 50 vessels from standing NATO maritime groups, in addition to the two carrier strike groups, amphibious task groups, submarines and more than 200 aircraft.