The UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Kent (F78) left the Barents Sea on May 8 after seven days of cold-weather operations in the icy waters of the Arctic Circle.
The ship has been working as part of a combined U.S. and UK task group, practising further integration with the allies and proving the Royal Navy’s ability to operate at sea in sub-zero temperatures hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle.
The U.S. Navy surface action group (SAG) comprised of three Arleigh Burke-class Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyers – USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) – assigned to the U.S 6th Fleet (C6F) and the Supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6).
Rear Admiral Simon Asquith, the Royal Navy’s Commander Operations, said: “While sailors and marines in the UK support the national effort against COVID-19, the ship’s company of HMS Kent are hard at work ensuring that the Royal Navy remains capable of operating in the most challenging environments fundamental to the UK’s vital interests. The rules-based international system enables freedom on the high seas for all nations. The Arctic exemplifies this and is an area for cooperation on numerous issues, including security and trade.”
Commander Matt Sykes, the Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said: “It has been rewarding to work in this part of the world and it is vitally important that the UK should take a strong interest in maintain stability and security in the region. Over the last week we have enhanced our ability to work with our US allies while also demonstrating the Royal Navy’s ability to operate in the region, now and in the future.”
Engineering Technician Cameron Warren said: “It has been interesting to work in the Arctic region but also surprisingly normal. It has shown me that our training really does prepare us for anything. I have enjoyed the surreal experience of being able to go on the upper deck at any time of day or night as it’s always light outside.”
In the last 12 months, HMS Kent has operated around the world and seen the full spectrum of challenging conditions in the past year, having operated in the high temperatures of the Gulf last year before taking up her tasking in the north Atlantic and high north.