The US Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) has officially commenced the Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016 in the Arctic Ocean following construction of US Navy Ice Camp SARGO.
The exercise will be conducted over a period of five weeks and will be attended by four nations and more than 200 participants.
It is aimed at assessing and testing operational scopes in the Arctic region.
The ICEX is planned, co-ordinated and executed by the US Navy’s arctic submarine laboratory (ASL).
ASL director Larry Estrada said: "This year’s ICEX will include complex testing, demonstration and evaluation efforts that promote and align with broader navy, DOD and national objectives in the region, as well as increase participation. The camp will allow us to provide a stable platform supporting over 35 organisations."
Thinning ice extent and the thickness in the Arctic region is said to have allowed scope for increased maritime operation, including trans-oceanic shipping and resource extraction.
Submarine forces commander vice-admiral Joseph Tofalo said: "ICEX allows us to assess our operational readiness in the Arctic, increase our experience in the region, develop partnerships and collaborative efforts, and advance our understanding of the Arctic environment.
"The Arctic environment plays a key role in national defence. With over a thousand miles of Arctic coastline, the US has strong national security and homeland defence interests in the region."
A temporary camp will be erected on a sheet of ice, called ice floe, in the Arctic Ocean to monitor submarine readiness and support Arctic objectives and initiatives.
SARGO comprises facilities such as shelters, a command centre, and infrastructure to house and support more than 70 personnel. It will act as a temporary command centre to perform operations in the Arctic region.
For more than 50 years, several submarines have conducted under-ice missions to support inter-fleet transit, training, cooperative allied operations in the Artic region.
Image: Sunset at the Ice Camp Nautilus in Arctic. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by mass communication specialist 2nd class Joshua Davies/Released.