Royal Navy joins forces with the US in Arctic for cold-weather training

The Royal Navy has joined forces with the US to practise operations in the icy waters of the Arctic.

While many Armed Forces personnel remain in the UK supporting the current national fight against COVID-19, the ship’s company of HMS Kent are focused on ensuring we are prepared for future global threats.

HMS Kent joined two American destroyers, a nuclear submarine, support ship and long-range maritime patrol aircraft above the Arctic Circle this week to hone skills in challenging environmental conditions.

The Portsmouth-based frigate, plus her Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron, is designed to help protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent and keep Britain safe.

For the exercise, HMS Kent has linked up with Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Porter, fast combat support ship USNS Supply, an American P8-A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and a US nuclear-powered submarine.

More than 1,200 military personnel from the two nations are involved – conducting key training in support of the UK’s Defence even while the UK Armed Forces are supporting the fight against COVID-19.

Commander Matt Sykes, the Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said: “I am delighted for HMS Kent to have this opportunity to work with our US allies. Conducting an exercise in the Arctic Circle is a new challenge for the ship’s company whose dedication and professionalism in preparing for this exercise have been impressive.

“The challenges of working in this extreme environment should not be underestimated but HMS Kent’s presence here continues to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the north Atlantic and high north. Finally, I would like to thank the friends and families of HMS Kent for their unswerving support throughout this period.”

I am delighted for HMS Kent to have this opportunity to work with our US allies. Conducting an exercise in the Arctic Circle is a new challenge for the ship’s company whose dedication and professionalism in preparing for this exercise have been impressive.

Commander Matt Sykes

Both the UK and the US are committed to ensuring no nation dominates the Arctic region, which is assuming growing importance in the face of increased activity and melting polar ice.

The Arctic exercise comes on the back of Anglo-US anti-submarine warfare training in UK waters just a few weeks ago, when the two allies linked up to help train future boat commanders undertaking the Royal Navy’s world-renowned Submarine Command Course – also known as Perisher. 

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.”

The waters are no warmer than 4 degrees Celsius; sea temperature, as well as salinity and various temperature layers play key roles in how effective sonar is.

HMS Kent’s operations play a key role in the defence of the United Kingdom. The Royal Navy continues to conduct essential training ashore and at sea in order to fulfil its critical outputs now and in the future.

Update

Updated on 4 May 2020

HMS Kent arrived in the icy Barents Sea this weekend conducting operations alongside US allies to ensure security and stability.

The Royal Navy warship continues working with ships from the US Navy to demonstrate our commitment to freedom of navigation in the challenging conditions above the Arctic Circle.

It is the first opportunity for many of the sailors serving in HMS Kent to enter the Arctic Circle, where there is constant daylight amid the freezing temperatures.

HMS Kent’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Paul White, said: “The Royal Navy is committed to maintaining long-term stability within the high north. HMS Kent, working with US allies, has demonstrated our commitment to global security and freedom of navigation while operating in a multi-national task group in an open and transparent manner.”

HMS Kent has experienced the full spectrum of challenging conditions in the past year, having operated in the high temperatures of the Gulf last year before taking up her tasking in the north Atlantic and high north.