U.S. NAVY ICE CAMP QUEENFISH -- The Hon. Meredith Berger, Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of the Navy, visited the U.S. Navy’s Ice Camp Queenfish, built on a sheet of Arctic ice floating 160 nautical miles offshore, and the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) on March 5-7 to observe Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2022.
Berger is the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, in addition to performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy.
She was joined by Adm. Frank Caldwell, Jr., director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, and Rear Adm. Douglas Perry, director of the Undersea Warfare Division on the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff, during the ICEX visit.
“It’s inspiring to see firsthand what the men and women of our Navy and Marine Corps can do in even the most inhospitable environments on Earth,” said Berger. “In a place where temperatures can drop to 60 or 70 degrees below zero, I was able to go from a mobile command center on a drifting piece of ice built by Marines, Navy SeaBees and Navy civilians to a nuclear-powered submarine surfaced just a short distance away.
“As maritime traffic increases through the Arctic waters, we must work with our partners and allies to project strength and keep this region safe and peaceful,” she continued. “Ice Exercise 2022 highlights our unique ability to operate in this austere and challenging environment.”
ICEX 2022 is a joint combined exercise that takes place over the course of about three weeks north of the Arctic circle, with personnel stationed at the temporary Ice Camp Queenfish, as well as in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and two operational U.S. Navy submarines. In addition to the command center, Ice Camp Queenfish includes sleeping tents, a dining hut, temporary restroom and runway for landing aircraft.
It was built by specialists from the Navy's Arctic Submarine Laboratory, the lead organization for the exercise, as well as personnel from the Bridgeport, Calif.-based U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and Gulfport, Miss.,-based Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, known as SeaBees. Berger stayed overnight at Ice Camp Queenfish prior to boarding USS Illinois to gain firsthand perspective from the personnel there supporting ICEX 2022.
Joining U.S. forces in the exercise are personnel from the Royal Canadian Air Force and Navy, as well as the United Kingdom Royal Navy.
“The Navy's submarine force has operated in the Arctic region for decades, but we're always challenging ourselves to improve and innovate,” said Perry. “Our biennial Ice Exercises demonstrate the unrivaled global reach, endurance, stealth and lethality of our Fast Attack Submarine Force, and are tremendous opportunities to evaluate ourselves, get better and build on our years of knowledge and experience.”
Rear Adm. Richard Seif, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Undersea Warfighting Development Center in Groton, Connecticut, and ranking officer at ICEX, welcomed Berger, Caldwell, Perry and other distinguished visitors to the Arctic.
“During ICEX 2022, we’ve been able to give decision makers at the highest levels of the Navy, military and government opportunities to see firsthand our training and innovation in the Arctic region,” said Seif. “This experience will be invaluable as our country works with partners and allies to ensure a free and peaceful Arctic.”
ICEX allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.