The Royal Marines swam ashore from the freezing depths of an Arctic fjord in final preparations for Norway’s biggest winter exercise for 30 years.
Teams of experts from 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group carried out essential training ahead of a Norwegian-led exercise.
Exercise Cold Response – which runs from March 10 to April 10 – will see Allied forces, including NATO partner nations Sweden and Finland, test themselves in some of the harshest and coldest conditions of the planet, alongside a galvanized effort by NATO for peace and stability in Europe.
Around 900 Royal Marines will be among those facing temperatures as low as -30C, carrying out raids along Norway’s rugged coast from an amphibious task force led by HMS Albion.
They will lead the UK’s participation in the exercise, which will see 35,000 troops from 28 nations demonstrate how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe’s northern flank against a modern adversary.
The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will deploy for the exercise, with the frigate HMS Richmond, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, a Royal Fleet auxiliary tanker and a nuclear-powered attack submarine escorting her .
British Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will patrol the skies, supporting commando operations and hunting submarines alongside a wide range of aircraft from across NATO, including F-35 fighter jets and helicopters of attack.
The Royal Marines have been in the Arctic since January honing their extremely cold weather skills to survive, move and fight across the frozen landscape. For the expert surveillance and reconnaissance squadron, the deployment allowed them to practice some of their key skills and work with their Norwegian counterparts.
Brigadier Rich Cantrill, Head of UK Commando Forces, said: “NATO, as an alliance, must be ready for anything, ready for any environment. It is essential for us to support our Norwegian partners and that is why we train so often in the Arctic.
“Cold Response is an incredible opportunity for NATO allies and key partners to come together in the harshest environment of the High North, prepare for any eventuality and learn to work together.”
In February, Honorary Colonel Bear Grylls joined the Royal Marines in Norway as they honed their crucial Arctic warfare skills.