The Los Angeles-class USS Hartford performed a North Pole surfacing.
There is no need to highlight the strategic importance of submarines.
The type of missions they can carry out is quite vast: they can escort and protect aircraft carriers, patrol the territorial waters, attack enemy warships (including enemy flattops) or merchant ships, run a blockade, gather intelligence (directly or by means of drones, even launched from a submerged position), infiltrate special forces, or launch ballistic cruise missiles (even with orders provided by “doomsday” planes and targeting guidance of electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich 5th gen. stealth multirole jets) in a conventional or nuclear land-attack scenario.
That’s why they are often operated near the most disputed waters and lands of the globe, including the Arctic Circle.
Not one but two Los Angeles-class submarines surfaced at U.S. Navy Ice Camp Sargo, a temporary station on top of a floating ice sheet in the Arctic last week.
The two subs, USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Connecticut, and USS Hampton (SSN 767) from San Diego are taking part in Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016, a five-week exercise that include multiple arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training evolutions during their time in the region.
“Navigating, communicating and maneuvering are all different in an arctic environment as there are surfaces both above and below a submarine,” said Cmdr. Scott Luers, ice camp officer-in-tactical-command and deputy director of operations for Commander Submarine Forces in Norfolk.
According to a U.S. Navy release, submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic region for more than 50 years. The first transit occurred in 1958 and was conducted by USS Nautilus (SSN 571). The first North Pole surfacing was in March 1959 and was performed by USS Skate (SSN 578). USS Sargo (SSN 583) was the first submarine to make a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960.
Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 26 Arctic exercises.
The following footage shows USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfacing in the Arctic Circle near Ice Camp Sargo during ICEX 2016.