Arlington, Va. (NNS) -- Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2011, featured several Office of Naval Research (ONR) projects designed to improve naval operations in the Arctic, March 15 through April 2.
The projects ranged from collecting data on the environment to testing undersea communications.
ICEX is held every two to three years by the Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) based in San Diego. Researchers and submariners deploy to the frigid region to test new equipment and train crews in operating under the ice.
During the first few days of the exercise, ONR Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr visited the ICEX operations center and spent time aboard USS Connecticut (SSN 22), the advanced Seawolf-class submarine that participated in this year's exercise.
USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) also participated in the exercise and tested a new version of a high-frequency sonar for safe Arctic operations.
"It is vital that our submarines are well equipped to protect U.S. interests in this important area," Carr said. "ONR is collaborating with the good work of the Arctic Submarine Lab to conduct science and technology experiments that help improve navigation, communication and naval operations in the harsh Arctic environment."
Submarines have conducted under-ice research since the 1950s, to provide the U.S. Navy with an improved forecast capability for changing conditions in the Arctic. By comparing satellite, airborne, surface and subsurface sonar observations, researchers have improved interfleet transit, training and cooperative allied engagements.
For this year's exercise, ONR sponsored several projects to measure sea ice thickness and snow depth, said Cmdr. Daniel Eleuterio, ONR director of Ocean Battlespace Sensing and Applications division. In addition, ONR supported students from the Naval Postgraduate School, who are researching the characteristics of a pressure ridge keel as part of ICEX. Ice keels are the submerged counterparts of ice ridges and can pose a hazard to submarines.
The collaborative research included the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, and Naval Research Laboratory's ground and airborne measurements of the Arctic ice thickness.
ONR also backed a program where ASL personnel aboard the submarine would deploy Expendable Conductivity Temperature Depth (XCTD) probes to study the salinity and temperature of the upper 1,000 meters of the water column. The XCTD program is anticipated to become a routine feature of future Scientific Ice Expeditions Science Accommodation Missions.
The Department of the Navy's ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.
For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.