The attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) turned icebreaker earlier this month and popped up North of the Arctic Circle with a crew full of fresh new Blue Noses.
The Groton, Connecticut-based Hartford, along with her San Diego, California-based sistership, USS Hampton (SSN 767) are poking around Santa’s Playground as part of the Navy’s annual Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. For the next several weeks up to 200 military and civilians will conduct operations atop the ice at Ice Station Sargo, named in honor of a previous U.S. Navy attack submarine that was the first to conduct a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960.
In Naval tradition, Sailors who cross the Arctic Circle are inducted into the Northern Domain of the Polar Bear/Royal Order of the Blue Noses for their troubles in the polar region. Speaking of polar bears, note the one crew member outfitted with a longarm for just such an encounter. In 2003, a polar bear chomped on the rudder of the USS Connecticut when she surfaced through the ice between the North Pole and Alaska.