Various Interesting Submarine news from around the world and the US Navy in the Artic


John Bud Cunnally ETC (SS) Ret. USN – President

International Submariners Association of the U.S.A. (ISA/USA)

US Navy kicks off ICEX 2018 in the Arctic Ocean

The US Navy has officially started Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 in the Arctic Ocean.

The exercise was kicked off with the construction of temporary Ice Camp Skate and the arrival of two US Navy fast-attack submarines and one UK Royal Navy submarine on March 7.

ICEX 2018 is a five-week biennial exercise that allows the US Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increasing experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.

The Seawolf-class fast attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) from Bangor, Washington, the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Connecticut, and the Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Trenchant (S91) will conduct multiple arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training evolutions during their time in the region.

“With every ICEX we can build upon our existing experience and continue to learn the best way to operate in this unique and harsh environment,” Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfare Development Center (UWDC), commented.

“We are constantly testing new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) under the ice, and this exercise allows us to do so on a larger scale and alongside our UK, joint and academic partners,” Pitts added.

The Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL), based in San Diego, serves as the lead organization for coordinating, planning and executing the exercise involving three nations services, three submarines and over 100 participants over the five weeks of operations.

Ice Camp Skate is a temporary ice camp that was established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean, known as an ice floe. Skate will serve as a temporary command center for conducting submarine operations, including under-ice navigation and torpedo exercises.

“Our Arctic Submarine Laboratory team has been working for over a year to ensure our Submarine Force can conduct dynamic torpedo and under-ice operations in this unique environment. This year’s camp is prepared to support the force with communication and weapons recovery,” Larry Estrada, director of ASL, said.

The camp gets its namesake from USS Skate (SSN 578), the first submarine to surface through open-water surrounded by ice in 1958 and the first submarine to surface through the arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since the success of Skate’s surfacing, arctic operations have been a crucial part of the missions conducted by nuclear submarines, according to the US Navy.

Submarines USS Hartford, USS Connecticut Surface Together in the Arctic Circle

BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) and Seawolf-class fast attack submarine, USS Connecticut (SSN 22) both surfaced in the Arctic Circle March 10 during the multinational maritime Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 in the Arctic Circle north of Alaska.

Both fast-attack submarines as well the UK Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant (S91), are participating in the biennial exercise in the Arctic to train and validate the warfighting capabilities of submarines in extreme cold-water conditions. 

"From a military, geographic, and scientific perspective, the Arctic Ocean is truly unique, and remains one of the most challenging ocean environments on earth," said Rear Admiral James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC).

ICEX provides the U.S. Submarine Force and partners from the Royal Navy an opportunity to test combat and weapons systems, sonar systems, communications and navigation systems in a challenging operational environment. The unique acoustic undersea environment is further compounded by the presence of a contoured, reflective ice canopy when submerged.

According to Pitts, operating in the Arctic ice alters methods and practices by which submarines operate, communicate and navigate. 

"We must constantly train together with our submarine units and partners to remain proficient in this hemisphere," Pitts said. "Having both submarines on the surface is a clear demonstration of our proficiency in the Arctic."

In recent years, the Arctic has been used as a transit route for submarines. The most recent ICEX was conducted in 2016 with USS Hampton (SSN 767) and USS Hartford (SSN 768). 

The first Arctic under-ice operations by submarines were done in 1947-49. On August 1, 1947, the diesel submarine USS Boarfish (SS-327), with Arctic Submarine Laboratory's founder Dr. Waldo Lyon onboard serving as an Ice Pilot, conducted the first under-ice transit of an ice floe in the Chukchi Sea.

In 1958, the nuclear-powered USS NAUTILUS made the first crossing of the Arctic Ocean beneath the pack ice. The first Arctic surfacing was done by USS Skate (SSN 578) in March 1959. USS Sargo was the first submarine to conduct a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960. 

The units participating in the exercise are supported by a temporary ice camp on a moving ice floe approximately 150 miles off the coast of the northern slope of Alaska in international waters. The ice camp, administered by the Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL), is a remote Arctic drifting ice station, built on multi-year sea-ice especially for ICEX that is logistically supported with contract aircraft from Deadhorse, Alaska. The ice camp will be de-established once the exercise is over.

ASL is an operational fleet support detachment of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC). ASL is also the Navy Program Manager for the Submarine Arctic Warfare Program.

For more information about ICEX 2018, visit

For more information, visit, or

For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit

USS Bremerton to be decommissioned later in 2018

USS Bremerton (SSN 698), the oldest submarine in the US Navy, will be moved to Bremerton, Washington, and decommissioned later this year, the navy informed.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine arrived at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in the Philippines on March 1 for a routine port visit during its deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.

“Bremerton’s arrival into Subic Bay means a lot to both my crew and the US submarine force. This is Bremerton’s ninth and final visit to Subic Bay in the ship’s 37-year history,” Cmdr. Travis Zettel, the commanding officer, said.

Currently homeported in Pearl Harbor, the submarine was scheduled to be decommissioned by the end of 2017, but her decommissioning was postponed in 2016.

Measuring more than 300 feet long and weighing more than 6,000 tons when submerged, Bremerton is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and mine warfare.

Pakistan contracts Turkey’s STM for modernization of second Agosta 90B submarine

Turkish defense contractor STM announced it had been awarded a contract to modernize a second Pakistan Navy Agosta 90B submarine.

The contract signing ceremony took place March 1 at the premises of Pakistan defense ministry’s procurement agency.

The contract for the modernization of the first submarine in the class was signed in June 2016, after Pakistan selected STM over the submarines’ original builder Naval Group.

According to STM, the latest contract contains options for the upgrade of the third and final submarine in Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B fleet.

The three Agosta 90B diesel-electric submarines are an improved version of the initial two Agosta’s acquired by Pakistan between 1979 and 1980.

PNS Khalid (S137), the first modernized submarine was built in France and completed in 1999. PNS Saad and PNS Hamza joined the Pakistani Navy by 2008.

STM expects works on the first submarine to be completed by 2020 with the second boat one year later. Modernization and upgrades will be carried out at a Karachi-based shipyard of the Pakistan Navy.

The project represents the first time a Turkish company has been selected as the prime contractor for a submarine modernization project conducted overseas. In the scope of the project, STM will be exporting its design and engineering services for the very first time.

In addition to the design, engineering and procurement activities to be carried out as part of the project, STM will also provide integrated logistic support and training services to different units of the Pakistan Navy. The modernization works will include the replacement of the submarine’s entire sonar suite, periscope systems, command and control system, radar and electronic support systems. Havelsan- and Aselsan-made systems will also be exported as part of the project.

Under the project, STM will make modifications on the pressure hull, the most critical structure in a submarine, by carrying out system-to-system integrations. This work to be provided by local and foreign companies.


Turkish-Pakistani defense cooperation

In addition to the submarine contract, STM was also contracted to design and construct a fleet tanker for the Pakistan Navy, which was Turkey’s single largest export ever in the field of military ships. The ship was launched in August 2016, and tests and trial activities for the ship are underway, according to the company.

In May 2017, Turkey and Pakistan signed a letter of intent under which Turkey would deliver four Ada-class corvettes to the Pakistan Navy while Pakistan would deliver its Super Mushshak training planes built by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex – Kamra. The Mushshak aircraft would replace the T-41 and SF-260 planes currently used by Turkey.

The 99.5-meter ADA class corvettes that are in service with the Turkish Navy are anti-submarine warfare (ASW) oriented vessels designed to embark ASW/ASUW helicopters and fitted with Harpoon missiles and a 76 mm gun.

According to an announcement from the Turkish Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM), the deal was expected to be finalized on June 30, 2017, but a formal announcement is yet to be made.