NEWS | April 5, 2016

USS Hartford, USS Hampton Conduct POLEX 2016

By Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

ARCTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Arctic ice gave way to the rising force of submarines as USS Hartford and USS Hampton performed a joint surfacing at the North Pole, March 31.

This Polar Exercise and subsequent transit home mark the end of a successful joint and multi-national under-ice exercise and operations for these vessels.

Over the past month, Hartford from the Atlantic Fleet and Hampton from the Pacific Fleet conducted multiple transits, surfacing and diving operations through the ice, and tactical exercises under the ice. In this, the final event of the exercise, both submarines surfaced at the North Pole. Together they traveled more than 10,000 miles under the Arctic ice.

With temperature affecting water density, which in turn changes the way sound travels and is picked up by sonar, the arctic environment presents the submarine force with a unique training domain.

Operating in this region, with its extremely cold water temperatures and highly variable ice thickness and formations, adds an even greater level of complexity to submarine operations; and these challenges are precisely what the Navy is seeking to ensure U.S. submarine crews remain proficient at under ice operations and have the opportunity to test under-ice systems and warfighting tactics.

"The TACDEV [tactical development] exercises conducted by USS Hartford and USS Hampton focused on maintaining our Submarine Force readiness in this harsh and challenging environment by collecting acoustic data, testing new equipment, and verifying the adequacy of our tactics, techniques and procedures," said Cmdr. Scott Luers, the submarine operations officer assigned to Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic.

With a polar surfacing and an ice exercise behind them, the two Los Angeles-class attack submarines and their crews add their names to the short list of those whom have ventured forth to the top of the planet in the name of mission readiness.

Since the first polar surfacing by USS Skate in March of 1959, the U.S. Submarine Force has now notched over 120 successful Arctic exercises, demonstrating the ability for U.S. submarines and their crews to operate safely and effectively in the most austere conditions.