Ships head home after Arctic operations

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Richmond

Royal Navy ships have started to return to their home ports after spending weeks in the frozen fjords of Norway.

HMS Albion was welcomed back to Plymouth, followed by warship HMS Richmond.

The pair have been working alongside other UK ships and units on NATO exercise Cold Response which saw 30,000 personnel from 26 nations train together in Arctic warfare.

Type 23 frigate Richmond spent time operating with NATO command ship HMS Prince of Wales, protecting and escorting the aircraft carrier as she went through her cold weather trials and directed the operations of other allied vessels.

Meanwhile, Albion was the spearhead of amphibious elements of Cold Response with her embarked Littoral Strike Group practising raids along the shoreline.

HMS Richmond left Devonport Naval Base in February after two months of maintenance following her global deployment with the Carrier Strike Group last year.

First she headed to the Baltic Sea where she worked with ships and personnel from Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, the United States and France.

After conducting patrols and escorting supply ships, the frigate headed north to join up with HMS Prince of Wales for Cold Response. The harsh environment of the Arctic Circle tested the ship and her sailors but they handled the below freezing temperatures and were able to operate successfully alongside NATO allies and partners.

With the exercise finished, she headed to Iceland – an enjoyable experience for many of the ship’s company.

“A highlight has been the opportunity to visit new countries I wouldn’t necessarily visit in Civvy Street, both Stavanger and Iceland were great port visits,” said Able Seaman John Robson, 31.

“Going so far north and seeing ice sheets was another experience I wouldn’t necessarily get outside the Royal Navy. It has been an interesting and challenging experience operating in cold environments.”

Going so far north also meant the sailors were able to see the Northern Lights which for AB Aiden McCabe was one of his highlights.

The 22-year-old added: “Seeing the Northern Lights on my birthday was something I won’t forget. Also a snowball fight on the flight deck in the middle of the ocean.

“I’ve enjoyed working in a job with a wide variety, each day was something different.”

For HMS Albion’s time in the Arctic Circle, the focus was on the Royal Marines and the amphibious elements of Cold Response.

Against the stunning backdrop of the Norwegian fjords, at times under the backlight of the Aurora Borealis, landing craft from Albion transferred Royal Marines and their equipment ashore.

She was also the base for defence engagement visits during her time alongside in Stavanger where she hosted 60 staff from NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre.

Captain Simon Kelly, Commanding Officer, said: “We have conducted a busy couple of months training with our NATO partners in the High North. The Norwegian Fjords have been an incredible and challenging part of the world to operate in.

“They have provided us with a fantastic opportunity to successfully deliver amphibious effect in one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

“After a busy start to 2022, Exercise Cold Response was a great opportunity to integrate UK Commando Forces into a larger multi-national maritime task group, whilst demonstrating to our NATO partners the capability and versatility of the UK’s high readiness amphibious assault ship.

“We have further advanced the Royal Navy’s Commando Force concept, shaping how Royal Marines will operate in the future.”



They have provided us with a fantastic opportunity to successfully deliver amphibious effect in one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

Captain Simon Kelly, Commanding Officer of HMS Albion