HMS Prince of Wales' flight deck covered in snow while deployed in the Arctic on NATO's Exercise Cold Response (Picture: HMS Prince of Wales/Twitter).
Arctic/Antarctic

Wallace: Freedom of navigation part of new Arctic strategy

UK will maintain a Royal Navy presence periodically in the High North, as part of plans announced by Defence Secretary in Norway.

HMS Prince of Wales' flight deck covered in snow while deployed in the Arctic on NATO's Exercise Cold Response (Picture: HMS Prince of Wales/Twitter).

The Defence Secretary has announced plans to ensure freedom of navigation and protect critical underwater infrastructure in the Arctic as part of a new strategy in the region.

Ben Wallace was in Norway to unveil the UK's Defence Contribution in the High North, which also outlines the UK's commitment to NATO, such as increasing UK training and operations in the area with allies and partners.

The strategy will also see the UK invest in research and development to build a modern defence capability for the region.

As part of the plans, the UK will maintain a Royal Navy presence periodically in the High North.

The High North is the territories of Nordic countries – including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – located throughout the Arctic beyond the Polar Circle.

"The High North and the impact of climate change affects us all whether we like it or not," Mr Wallace said.

"The North Atlantic will always be the UK's 'home beat' and so it is vital that we strengthen both our interoperability and our force integration with NATO and non-NATO partners in the region."

Watch: Royal Marines launch stealth raid from Navy submarine during Arctic exercise.

During his time in Norway, Mr Wallace met his Norwegian counterpart as well as those taking part in Exercise Cold Response 22 – NATO's biggest Arctic exercise for 30 years, with 35,000 troops from 28 participant nations.

The training in Norway allows NATO allies and partners to practise their skills operating in extreme surroundings. 

About 900 Royal Marines have been deployed to the Arctic since January in preparation for the exercises, sharpening their expertise operating in the freezing conditions.

The Defence Secretary also met with the crew on board HMS Prince of Wales, which has been central to the NATO exercise and received a series of briefings on its role as a NATO command platform.