NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Navy announced March 25 that all primary objectives for Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016 have been met and the breakdown of Ice Camp Sargo is underway.
"The objectives of demonstrating presence, gaining additional Arctic operational experience, furthering partnerships and expanding scientific research were all achieved over the four weeks in which the ice camp was operational. The hard work and dedication displayed by the Arctic Submarine Laboratory, the ICEX participants, and the shore support team made this event an overall success," said Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo, commander, Submarine Forces.
With the primary objectives met and indications of adverse environmental conditions, specifically a crack on the ice floe, that could impact the future safety of the Camp, the decision was made to conclude Ice Camp operations seven days early; submarine operations however continue as planned.
"Completing an exercise with over 200 participants, representing 30 different organizations and four nations, while operating in an unforgiving and dynamic environment like the Arctic is no small feat," said Tofalo.
"All the participants in ICEX accomplished a great deal work," said Larry Estrada, Director of Arctic Submarine Laboratory.
"Significant testing and research took place during this ICEX. What we have learned and the data collected by everyone will only further our understanding of this region and improve our operating capabilities in such an unpredictable environment."
Ice Camp Sargo was comprised of a series of portable lodging huts, dining and storage facilities, and a command post, and was serviced by two primary frozen runways and two backup runways. The Camp was built on a large floating sheet of ice called an ice floe, nearly 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
In the demobilization process, the camp will be fully disassembled and all the fuel, tools, equipment, lodging facilities, and waste will be removed from the ice floe. All personnel have safely returned to the mission logistics hub in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
The Los Angeles-class attack submarines USS Hampton (SSN 767) and USS Hartford (SSN 768) will remain in Arctic waters and continue under-ice operations through early April.
Submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic in support of inter-fleet transits, training, cooperative allied engagements and combat training operations for over six decades. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first submerged transit to the North Pole in 1958. USS Skate (SSN 578) was the first U.S. submarine to surface through Arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 120 Arctic exercises, with the last completed in 2014.