Ministry of Defence
UK leads multi-national task group of warships above the Arctic Circle in demonstration of freedom of navigation
The Royal Navy has led a multi-national task group of warships and aircraft into the High North for the first time in more than twenty years on an operation to demonstrate freedom of navigation above the Arctic Circle.
HMS Sutherland, supported by RFA Tidespring, commanded a task group comprising the United States Navy’s destroyer USS Ross and the Norwegian Frigate Thor Heyerdahl on a deployment to the Barents Sea.
The ships undertook training with each other to further develop their Navies’ interoperability while asserting our nations’ commitment to upholding peace in the region.
The High North is witnessing a change in its security environment and represents a key area of interest for the UK. Recent Russian attempts to control freedom of access and navigation in the region are of concern to the UK and our partners.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace yesterday said:
The UK is the closest neighbour to the Arctic states. In addition to preserving UK interests we have a responsibility to support our Arctic Allies such as Norway to preserve the security and stability of the region.
It is vital to preserve freedom of navigation when melting ice caps are creating new shipping lanes and increasing the risk of states looking to militarise and monopolise international borders.
Over 1,200 military personnel from four nations took part, supported by US P-8 Poseidon and Danish Challenger Maritime Patrol Aircraft along with RAF Typhoons and a RAF Voyager refuelling tanker.
This multi-domain operation is the first time that the UK has operated Typhoons in the High North. RAF aircraft conducted an air defence exercise to improve integration between air and maritime assets.
It is also the first time the UK has operated so far north alongside Denmark and Norway, both of whom are part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). Through groupings such as JEF and NATO, we demonstrate the UK’s commitment to peace, security, and freedom of access and navigation in the High North. These organisations are vital in setting the conditions for international security and it is crucial we all play our part in an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition.
Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen yesterday said:
Flights, operations at sea, and exercises are important contributions to Norwegian and European security as part of a larger cooperation on the defence of the Alliance. In order for allied forces to reinforce the defence of NATO’s northern part, they need to have the knowledge to operate there. For this reason, Norwegian and Allied military personnel, groups, aircraft and ships need also to train and exercise in Norway and the High North in peacetime. Training together with US, British, and Danish forces strengthens the operational value for both our own and their forces, and enables us to operate seamlessly together.
HMS Sutherland led the ships through a demanding series of exercises, testing their abilities to conduct surface and anti-submarine warfare in one of the world’s most challenging of environments. Conducting routine tasks, such as replenishment at sea, in conditions close to freezing and in unfamiliar waters becomes a vital training exercise to ensure effective integration between allies.
More than 1,200 personnel are taking part in the exercise. Crown copyright.
Our activity was completed in a considered manner that demonstrated each nations’ continued determination to ensure stability and security in the High North.
Commander Tom Weaver RN, Task Group Commander and Commanding Officer HMS Sutherland yesterday said:
It has been thoroughly rewarding to operate in the High North. This operation has been an amazing opportunity to hone the skills of my Ship’s Company not only in this challenging and demanding environment but also to work more closely with key allies in an incredibly important region.
Latest News from
Ministry of Defence
Royal Air Force A400M showcased in Kazakhstan28/09/2020 10:15:00
During a recent visit, which promoted the bilateral military co-operation between the UK and Kazakhstan, the capability of the RAF A400M was showcased to the Kazakh Government.
Completion of training facility at RAF Waddington25/09/2020 10:15:00
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has completed the refurbishment of a hangar at RAF Waddington to convert it into a joint training facility.
Troops and veterans one step closer to stronger legal protection24/09/2020 10:15:00
The Overseas Operations Bill for service personnel and veterans was yesterday laid before Parliament for its Second Reading.
Hundreds of UK troops parachute into Ukraine for joint exercises22/09/2020 10:15:00
Over 200 British paratroopers made history this week when they jumped into southern Ukraine for the first time.
More Afghan interpreters who risked their lives supporting British troops to begin new lives in the UK21/09/2020 15:15:15
Dozens more Afghan interpreters who supported British Armed Forces on the frontline in Helmand Province will be able to move to the UK as part of an expanded relocation scheme announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
All ranks common room opens at RAD Benson21/09/2020 10:15:00
A new all ranks Common Room has officially opened at RAF Benson, enhancing the lived experience of RAF personnel and their families.
Royal Marines accommodation in Lympstone reaches milestone17/09/2020 15:15:15
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) project to build new accommodation for personnel at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Devon has celebrated a major milestone.
UK Space Agency: Government backs UK companies tackling dangerous 'space junk'17/09/2020 11:24:00
Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of over £1 million to help track debris in space.
RAF looks to the future on Battle of Britain Day16/09/2020 13:15:00
On the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain a special day of events was hosted at RAF Waddington, the home of the RAF’s intelligence gathering assets, showcasing how the RAF are ready to meet the challenges of today, and the emerging threats of tomorrow.