Three Russian missile submarines carrying up to 200 nuclear weapons surfaced in the Arctic Ocean last week, demonstrating their ability to conduct their nuclear mission in emergencies.
The submarines, part of Moscow’s nuclear deterrent force, forced their way through ice that’s several feet thick. In wartime, the subs would hide under the ice from NATO anti-submarine forces.
The exercise took place near Franz Josef Land, an island archipelago off the coast of Russia in the Arctic Ocean. The islands are just 625 miles south of the North Pole. In March, the temperatures hover between an average of 8 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit and the sea is covered with a thick layer of ice.
On March 20, the three ballistic missile submarines—two Delta IV subs and one Borei-class sub, per The Barents Observer—surfaced off the coast of the archipelago, using their sails to break through the thick ice crust. The submarines surfaced within a radius of 300 meters, demonstrating their ability to navigate with precision even under polar ice.
The ice appears to differ in thickness. Some of the ice appears approximately 1 foot thick, while one Delta-class submarine, with its sail-mounted diving planes pivoted upward, looks like it surfaced in 3 feet of ice.
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