ICEX18 (Ice Exercise 2018) was kicked off early March, beginning the five week exercise in one of the world’s harshest environments: the arctic cold. Every other year, the U.S. Navy conducts this training event that tests and train’s the Navy’s capabilities in the unforgiving northern temperatures, and to coordinate with partner nations while doing so. They operate from a temporary camp by the name of Ice Camp Skate (pictured above), that supports the various elements as it rests on a sheet of floating ice.

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Here, the Seawolf-class, nuclear powered attack submarine the USS Connecticut has surfaced near the Los Angeles-class submarine, the USS Hartford. The Navy has been practicing operating their submarines under the ice since 1947, and technology has come a long way to support these types of missions. This “breaching” through the ice is an essential part of operating in the arctic.

MC 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/U.S. Navy via AP

A sailor from the USS Hartford peeks over the ship’s edge after the submarine surfaces. The cold weather gear of Naval personnel here is a serious priority, as the temperatures can kill or cause serious injury. The temperatures can also fluctuate quite drastically due to the reflection on the snow.

MC 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/U.S. Navy via AP

Americans are not the only ones maneuvering under the ice or conducting other arctic training exercises, like torpedo usage in freezing environments. An essential part of ICEX is the cooperative efforts between several nations — represented this year are the U.S., England, Canada and Norway.

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U.S. Navy via AP

Ice Camp Skate recieves its supplies from a Royal Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter plane. The base is a temporary one that is located approximately 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It can hold around 50 people, coordinating the various training exercises.

U.S. Navy photo by Airman 1st Class Kelly Willett

The primary mode of transportation on the ground is via snowmobile, and their tracks can be seen here. Supplies and personnel have no other way of getting from point A to B across land.

US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Lee

This is an earlier photo, from ICEX14. The breaching/surfacing exercises, along with the rest, have been a hallmark of of the ICEX operations since they began. When this photo was taken in 2014, three submarines (one of which was British) conducted these operations that are continuing to be refined today.

U.S. Navy via AP

Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press: Ice Camp Skate.