U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy conduct military exercise in Barents Sea

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers and a British Royal Navy frigate departed the Barents Sea May 8, following seven days of Arctic operations. As the Arctic continues to become more accessible to maritime traffic, naval proficiency in the region is critical to regional security, global commerce, and American national interests. The SAG’s operations provided the opportunity for Sailors to demonstrate their readiness for sustained Arctic operations in the unique and challenging environment.
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U.S. Navy and British royal Navy conducts military exercise in Barents Sea 925 001 The Type-23 Duke-class frigate HMS Kent (F78), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), and USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) conduct a photo exercise (PHOTOEX) while conducting joint operations to ensure maritime security in the Arctic Ocean, May 5, 2020. (Curtsy photo LPhot Dan Rosenbaum, HMS Kent)

The surface action group (SAG) comprised of U.S. 6th Fleet (C6F) Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6), and Royal Navy’s HMS Kent (F 78) entered the Barents Sea on May 4 to conduct training and operations in the challenging conditions of the Arctic region. Along with the warships, U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) and U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft provided support during training and operational events.

The joint SAG, made up of approximately 1,200 Sailors from two nations, conducted high-end, sustained operations, combined and divisional surface warfare tactics, refined coordinated operations with U.S. Air Forces Europe, and reinforced Arctic communications capabilities, while maintaining proficiency in critical warfare areas.

With support from Supply, the ships maintained continuous operations through replenishments-at-sea. Conducting these complex evolutions allow U.S. and allied ships to remain uninterrupted on station for long periods of time.

Porter, Donald Cook, and Kent recently completed a bilateral naval anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Norwegian Sea. A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine and a P-8A also participated in the exercise. This exercise reinforced the combined training that the nations received last month while participating in the U.K.’s Submarine Command Course.

U.S. ships in the SAG have been operating with partner nations throughout European seas over the last month. Porter conducted a communications and maneuvering exercise with Romania in the Black Sea, April 13. Following her departure from the Black Sea, Porter met with Supply and Roosevelt to work with the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean and with the French Navy in the Atlantic, April 27 to conduct interoperability exercises. Prior to joining the SAG, Donald Cook operated in the Baltic Sea, sailing with the Lithuanian Navy.

Allied and partner navies must remain proficient in all operating environments to ensure the continued security and access to the seas. This is especially critical in the Arctic, where the austere weather environment demands constant vigilance and practice.

The ships are applying lessons learned from recent operations in the Arctic while increasing their navies’ abilities in cold weather conditions. To successfully operate in the region, Sailors must master navigation, logistics, and communications in the harsh environment. The SAG operations in the High North are the latest in a series of U.S. ships operating in the Arctic Circle. In 2018, elements of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group operated above the Arctic Circle in support of NATO exercise Trident Juncture. In 2019, Donald Cook and a SAG from U.S. 2nd Fleet led by USS Normandy (CG 60) and USS Farragut (DDG 99), also operated separately north of the Arctic Circle.

The three U.S. destroyers, based out of Rota, Spain, support NATO’s integrated air missile defense architecture and maritime security operations throughout the global commons in Africa and Europe. Commander, Task Force 65 ships consistently demonstrate the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, exhibiting a mastery of the maritime domain.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.