ARCTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) visited Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2009 off of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on March 21-22.
Adm. Gary Roughead visited Sailors aboard USS Annapolis (SSN 760) and USS Helena (SSN 725), along with Navy civilians at the Applied Physics Lab Ice Station (APLIS), to get a firsthand look at the Navy's ICEX program. CNO spoke with Sailors and Navy civilians throughout his visit and said that the region is vital to the maritime strategy.
"The Arctic is important to the nation and the Navy because it really is a maritime domain. We have some very fundamental interests - security interests - in the Arctic region," Roughead said. "We've been here operating in this part of the world for a long time."
CNO said that the Arctic Ocean is a critical waterway for the Navy and training under the ice is necessary to maintain a working knowledge of a constantly evolving environment. Roughead stayed a night aboard USS Annapolis (SSN 760) and talked about the tough Arctic environment and its comprehensive effects on Navy operations.
"It gives us the opportunity to test our combat systems, our navigation systems, our communication systems and just what it's like to operate in this very challenging environment. By coming up here, being part of not just a Navy initiative but a scientific initiative, it really helps out not just the Navy but other communities as well," CNO said.
Roughead thanked the Sailors and Navy civilians and reminded them that what they do every day supports the U.S. Navy's mission around the globe.
"It's been an unbelievable experience being on Annapolis in the Arctic, under the ice with such a tremendous group of professionals. You make everyone in the Navy proud; you make everyone in our country proud, and I thank you for what you do," Roughead said.
ICEX 2009 gives the Navy's submarine force the opportunity to develop and hone their Arctic operational and warfighting skills in order to meet the challenges of the Arctic's unique operational environment. USS Annapolis and USS Helena are supported by contractors from the Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington (APL/UW) to conduct classified testing of submarine systems and Navy operational use in an Arctic environment.
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