Cold Response preparations ramp up

Combined British and Dutch elements of the Norwegian-led task group heading for demanding Arctic exercises have assembled in southern Norway.

Helicopters, warships and commandos have gathered for Exercise Cold Response in Stavanger, before heading north for the beginning of the biggest UK training in the region for nearly a decade.

In all, 15,000 troops from ten nations are descending on Cold Response to test their ability to work together in one of the most unforgiving environments on earth.

A UK-Netherlands Amphibious Task Group as part of Cold Response is centred around amphibious ships HMS Albion and HNLMS Johan De Witt.

From there, raids by Royal Marines and allied forces will be launched onto the Norwegian coastline.

Captain Philip Dennis, who is deployed on Johan Witt as Deputy Commander Amphibious Task Force, said: “Embarking helicopters, Royal Marines, sailors, soldiers and Air Force personnel supported from NATO allies across two highly capable amphibious warships proves we have the capability to deploy globally in support of our partners and allies, while our ability to operate in extreme conditions proves our resilience and flexibility.

“This exercise is also supporting the development of our Future Commando Force capabilities that will harness future innovations and technological developments that have recently become available to take forward on to the battlefield.”

Commando Helicopter Force Merlins of 845 Naval Air Squadron flew from their RNAS Yeovilton home to Johan De Witt, where they will be flying sorties from during the exercises. 

This exercise is also supporting the development of our Future Commando Force capabilities that will harness future innovations and technological developments that have recently become available to take forward on to the battlefield.

Captain Philip Dennis

The UK’s flagship Albion has joined survey ship HMS Echo and Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, while more than a thousand Royal Marines have been in Norway since January refining their Arctic skills.

Sutherland will be deployed on Anti-Submarine Warfare duties throughout the exercise.

‘The Fighting Clan’ will conduct a wide variety of serials including gunnery and boarding operations, maintaining her readiness for upcoming tasking.

In addition, Sutherland will retain her Maritime Security Operations role, and stands by to be called upon to conduct escort duties, counter-terrorism operations or actions to prevent people trafficking.

“This period of integrating with our NATO partners as part of a wider Task Group presents us a wide range of opportunities,” said Commanding Officer, Commander Tom Weaver. 

“My crew will be ready to meet the harsh conditions of the arctic region, and are looking forward to honing their warfighting skills alongside our Allies.”

Exercise Cold Response 20 is a joint exercise in the Troms region of Norway. 

Taking place in the harsh Arctic environment, the exercise aims to promote freedom, security and stability, while proving military capability.