USA: Seawolf-Class, Fast-Attack Submarine Returns Home After Arctic Exercise


Seawolf-class, fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) returned to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., April 27, concluding a 58-day deployment highlighted by its participation in Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2011.

“We were excited to have the chance to practice and develop techniques while operating in a very challenging environment,” said Cmdr. Michael Varney, Connecticut’s commanding officer. “Out of 140 Sailors, only 11 of us had been to the Arctic, so this was a unique opportunity.”

After departing Bremerton March 1, Connecticut proceeded north to a point more than 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where a tracking station and small ice station had been established.

From March 15 to April 2, Connecticut and Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) participated in ICEX, an exercise designed to increase the Navy’s operational experience in the region and advance understanding of the Arctic environment.

During the exercise, crews from both submarines, along with British and Canadian sailors and researchers from the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, tested new equipment and trained together to operate under the ice.

Connecticut played a large part in testing new undersea technologies during ICEX, including high-frequency sonar for safe Arctic operations and the Raytheon Deep Siren acoustic communications system.

“Science played a large part in our operations in the Arctic, especially how best to measure the environment we were in,” said Varney.

The submarine also demonstrated the ability of the Seawolf-class to surface and submerge through the Arctic ice pack multiple times.

Connecticut hosted Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Congressional visitors, as well as several members of the media during the exercise.

U.S. submarines must continue to train in the Arctic environment to refine and validate procedures and required equipment, as the Arctic Ocean serves as a route for submarines to transit between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The U.S. Submarine Force conducts these exercises in the Arctic in order to ensure continued access to this unique region.

Navy submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions in support of inter-fleet transit, training, cooperative allied engagements and operations for more than 50 years. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first transit in 1958.

Connecticut is the second of the Navy’s three Seawolf-class submarines, all of which are homeported in the Pacific Northwest.

By Lt. Ed Early (navy)
Source: navy, May 3, 2011;