Royal Marines

Sub-zero training for Royal Marines ahead of Norwegian exercise

Royal Marines have swum ashore from the freezing depths of an Arctic fjord during final preparations for the largest winter exercise in Norway for 30 years.

Expert teams from 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group have been carrying out the essential training ahead of a Norwegian-led exercise.

Exercise Cold Response – which runs from 14 March to 1 April – will see allied forces, including from NATO partner nations Sweden and Finland, test themselves in some of the toughest and coldest conditions on Earth, alongside a galvanised NATO effort for peace and stability in Europe.

About 900 Royal Marines will be among those facing temperatures as low as -30°C, raiding along the rough Norwegian coastline from an amphibious task group led by HMS Albion.

They will head the UK's involvement in the exercise, which will see 35,000 troops from 28 nations show how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe's northern flank from a modern adversary.

Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will deploy to the exercise, with frigate HMS Richmond, Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker and a nuclear-powered attack submarine escorting her.

UK Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will patrol the skies, supporting commando operations and hunting submarines alongside a wide range of aircraft from across NATO, including F-35 fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Royal Marines have been in the Arctic since January perfecting extreme cold weather skills in surviving, moving, and fighting across the frozen landscape. For the expert Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, the deployment has allowed them to practise some of their key skills and work with their Norwegian counterparts.

Brigadier Rich Cantrill, in charge of the UK's commando forces, said: "NATO as an alliance needs to be ready for anything, ready for all environments. It's essential for us to support Norwegian partners and that's why we train in the Arctic so often.

"Cold Response is an amazing opportunity for key NATO allies and partners to come together in the most challenging environment of the High North, prepare for any eventuality and learn to work together."

In February, Honorary Colonel Bear Grylls joined the Royal Marines in Norway as they honed their crucial Arctic warfare skills.