Watch a Navy Submarine Break Through Arctic Ice

It takes a crew to cut a hole in the ice and open the hatch.

YouTube screenshot 

Against the snowy backdrop of the arctic, a black metal U.S. Navy submarine penetrates the thick pristine ice to kick off Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016.

The U.S.S. Hartford from Groton, Connecticut, and U.S.S. Hampton from San Diego will conduct multiple trips to the North Pole for the five-week event, which is designed to both serve as maneuvering training for submarine operators in the difficult environment of the icy waters as well as a mission to collect environmental data on the area.

“Submarine operations as part of ICEX provide the necessary training to maintain a working knowledge of an extremely challenging region that is very different than any other ocean in the world,” says Commander Scott Luers, ice camp officer-in-tactical-command and deputy director of operations for Commander Submarine Forces in Norfolk. “Navigating, communicating and maneuvering are all different in an arctic environment as there are surfaces both above and below a submarine.”

As a side-effect of this, spectators got to witness the black machinery of man punching through the ice. Researchers, employees, and civilians got to watch the submarine surface near Ice Camp Sargo, which looks like the Star Wars rebel Hoth base sticking out of the snow.

While those on the ground only got one viewpoint, internet users are treated to an aerial view of the surfacing, highlighting the size of the craft and the way the ice reacts to its movements.


Once it surfaced, one of the passengers aboard the submarine emerged from the top most tower to brush ice off the top. Crewmembers then got to work cutting through the ice with chainsaws and ice picks to expose the main hatch and let the craft’s remaining members out.

The thick layer of ice still separating the submarine from the fresh air had to be cut through in blocks and removed in order to reach the hatch. Thankfully, this wasn’t a precise ice carving of a swan, just a slash and hack job as the chainsaws cut through like butter.


This is by no means the first time a submarine has surfaced in arctic conditions, but it’s fun to have some crispy video of it happening.

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