Royal Navy vessels set sail to Norway for major Arctic warfare exercise

A naval task group made up of four Royal Navy vessels HMS Albion, HMS Sutherland, HMS Echo and RFA Lyme Bay have set sail this week to Norway in one of the largest UK deployments in 2020.

They will join a force of more than a thousand Green Berets who have been in Norway over recent weeks mastering Arctic survival, movement and combat skills in Norway ahead of the larger multinational exercise.

Exercise Cold Response is a Norway-led, large-scale exercise that will boost Allies’ ability to operate together in extreme sub-zero conditions. The UK will exercise alongside the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Around 14,000 personnel will participate in total.

This year marks the first of a decade-long training programme the Royal Marines have committed to with their Norwegian counterparts. Each year, around 1,000 Royal Marines will travel to Norway to test their skills hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle where temperatures drop as low as -30oC.

“This decade will see the Royal Marines test their expert cold weather combat skills and build rock solid partnerships with our allies in the High North,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“The shifting landscape and increased strategic competition of the Arctic region will create future threats. But our forces will be ready to respond wherever they emerge.”

Training preparations for Exercise Cold Response 2020 begin on February 27 with the main field exercise itself, in which the thousands of multinational troops will simulate a high-intensity combat scenario, starting on March 12 and running through to March 18.

The UK will be deploying over 2,000 personnel for the exercise, of which around 1,250 will be from the Lead Commando Group with the rest supporting the Naval task group led by HMS Albion and the Joint Helicopter Command air group.

While on Cold Response, HMS Sutherland will be adopting Anti-Submarine Warfare duties. Throughout the exercise, the frigate will conduct a wide variety of serials including gunnery and boarding operations, maintaining and enhancing her readiness for future tasking.

Photo: Photo: Royal Navy