region within a six-month period. At the end of our inaugural deployment,
which concluded in the fall of 2002, the “Warriors of Double
Deuce” conducted ICEX-02, which provided us our first Arctic
experience and thoroughly tested out our systems in preparation
for ICEX-03. In addition to conducting systems tests, Connecticut
became the first Seawolf (SSN-21)-class submarine to surface
through the Arctic ice, which was a huge morale boost for the crew
and whetted their tactical appetite for ICEX-03.
Less than five
months after returning from deployment and following a major upkeep,
the Double Deuce set sail once again for the Arctic. During our
period in port, we executed an aggressive training program including
classroom instruction, watch-team seminars, and ship-control simulations
to ensure we maintained our operational proficiency at a high pitch.
Additionally, we would be validating Arctic procedures for the Seawolf
class during our various ICEX operations, so one goal was to evaluate
as many aspects of the procedures in the trainers as possible before
attempting them at sea. The success of both our in-port training
program and the overall operation was due is in large part to the
guidance and assistance we received from the Arctic Submarine Laboratory
(ASL) and in particular from our ice-pilot, Mr. Al Hayashida. Mr.
Hayashida flew to Groton on several occasions to lead seminars,
evaluate our ship-control teams in the trainers, and help us refine
our Arctic procedures.
As we set sail
for ICEX-03 on the brink of the Iraqi War in early April, the Warriors
of Double Deuce remained focused on and committed to our Arctic
operations. Although not directly involved in a combat deployment,
we still felt our time in the Arctic was vital to the War on Terrorism.
The extensive Mk 48 ADCAP testing we conducted in the Arctic may
improve our primary weapon in a broad array of employment scenarios,
including many in the shallow-water littoral. The acoustic background
and multi-path interference experienced by the Mk 48 ADCAPs we employed
near the ice canopy are similar to the conditions the weapon would
encounter in shallow water. Therefore, improvements made to the
Mk 48 ADCAP as a result of our Arctic tests may well enhance the
weapon’s littoral capability. Another very important aspect
of our operations under the ice was maintaining operational proficiency
in the Arctic for the Submarine Force as a whole. The shortest and
most secure route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans takes
you across the top of the world. Our two ICEXs (ICEX-02 and ICEX-03)
yielded over 200 Sailors with Arctic operational experience. So
as the Warriors of Double Deuce transfer ashore or to other commands,
they will take with them the lessons-learned needed to train the
next generation of Arctic submariners, thus sustaining our ability
to operate confidently in this vital region of the world.
(SSN-22) surfaces through the Arctic ice near the APLIS ice
camp during ICEX 03.
Navigator LT Sean Szymanski takes time out of his busy schedule
to sit on Santa Claus’ knee (FT1(SS) Anderson).
to maintaining operational proficiency and refining under-ice procedures,
we seized a great opportunity to showcase the technology inherent
in our submarines and the expertise and dedication of the Sailors
who man them to a group of national leaders. Connecticut
was honored to host Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Dr. Ronald
Sega (Director of Defense Research and Engineering), former CNO
ADM James Watkins (now chairman of the U.S. Ocean Policy Commission),
ADM Skip Bowman (Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion), and RADM
John Butler (PEO SUBS) for a day onboard, where they enjoyed a firsthand
look at Arctic operations and the proficiency of the boat. The crew
particularly valued our interaction with Congressman Bartlett, who
made a point to visit and talk with as many of his new shipmates
as time would permit. Following the VIP visit, we entertained several
news agencies and enjoyed one of many days surfaced through the
ice. In addition to football, golf, slide competitions, and a visit
from Santa on the surface, the Warriors of Double Deuce hosted a
(real) polar bear we affectionately named “Fred.” A
good time was had by all, and our Sailors – and Fred –
shared memories that will last a lifetime.
Arctic operations were tactically challenging and professionally
rewarding. But more importantly, the Warriors of Double Deuce demonstrated
that by exploiting the technology inherent in the Seawolf
class and the operational flexibility of our submarines and crews,
“Anywhere, Anytime” is not just a slogan, but a reality.
CDR Clark is
the former Commanding Officer of Connecticut. He recently
transferred to the staff of the Director of Submarine Warfare (N77)
in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
are many reasons why the navies of the United States and the United
Kingdom are interested in maintaining and improving their operational
and warfighting skills in the Arctic.
United States has interests that span the globe. In order to protect
and preserve our nation’s interests, the Navy must be able
to operate in any of the world’s oceans. The Submarine Force
cannot afford to be limited to a single ocean area nor can it afford
to be excluded from any of them. The challenges of the Arctic and
cold water regions are so unique that, were we to allow our under-ice
capabilities to atrophy, it would require an extensive period of
time to re-establish operational competency.
there is a reduced presence in the Arctic, this may not remain the
case. Indeed it is likely that an adversary will mature whose climate
is “Arctic-like” part of the year. Being able to operate
and fight in the Arctic prepares the Submarine Force for any Arctic
or near-Arctic conditions. In recent years, both the U.S. and Royal
navies have been involved in activities in places like the Persian
Gulf and the Adriatic. Neither of these major operations was expected.
Recent decades have reinforced the lesson that world powers need
to have navies with the flexibility to operate any place in the
world on short notice. The Arctic Ocean therefore cannot be ignored.
the need for submarine presence, especially in wartime, has increased
significantly in recent years. With the increased need to surge
our undersea assets from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, or vice
versa, the need to route these assets through the Arctic Ocean logically
must increase. A submarine operating in the North Atlantic could
reach the Far East faster going through the Arctic Ocean than by
going through the Panama Canal. Ultimately, the Arctic route is
shorter, quicker, and more secure, even in light of the challenges
of the Bering Strait transit.
able to maintain the Submarine Force’s current Arctic capability
requires frequent runs under the ice by submarines to ensure a continuing
improvement in basic skills and a certain level of crew expertise.
Likewise it is imperative that periodic ice camps be established
to enhance Submarine Force weapons testing and tactical development.
There is no substitute for the testing rigors of the Arctic environment.
Therefore, there is no finer test bed for a submarine or its crew
than actually being north of the Arctic Circle and under the ice.
The end result will be continuing availability of a more secure
and faster transit route. The advantages of less distance, less
time, better crew deployment tempo, and faster flow of inter-theater
assets in support of war plans cannot be ignored.