NATO: A Portuguese diesel-electric submarine carried out a “historic” patrol under the ice of the Arctic

NATO: A Portuguese diesel-electric submarine carried out a “historic” patrol under the ice of the Arctic

In 1931, the US Navy chartered the submarine Nautilus to Australian explorer George Hubert Wilkins for scientific expeditions. [classe O] He made history by being the first to sail under the Arctic ice…a remarkable feat, considering the technology of the time.

In fact, for a diesel-electric submarine, venturing beneath an ice floe is so complicated that it must surface regularly to recharge its batteries. Nuclear submarines have no such restrictions. We had to wait twenty-seven years to see the first of them, the USS Nautilus, repeat the feat of its “predecessor.”

From now on, the US Navy and the Russian Navy have experience in this type of training… Moreover, they do not fail to publicize it, by broadcasting images showing their submarines breaking ice, during the “Ice EX” and “Umka” type exercises.

However, if nuclear submarines are best suited for navigation under ice, this does not prevent diesel-electric submarines from doing the same. This was the case with swordfish and porpoises. [classe Narval]sent by the French Navy beyond the 70th parallel north in 1964.

Also, by emphasizing that the NRP Arpão has just achieved a “historic feat” of being “the first conventional submarine to sail and operate under the Arctic ice”, the Portuguese Navy has advanced too quickly… even if this does not detract from the importance of the achievement achieved by this building.

As a reminder, it belongs to the Trident category. [elle-même dérivée du Type 209 allemand]NRP Arpão is a diesel-electric submarine with an air-cooled propulsion system. [AIP] Displacement 2000 tons submerged. Fairly modern design. [il a été admis au service en 2011, ndlr]It is specially equipped with an ISUS 90 combat management system, a KH-1007 navigation radar and eight 533 mm torpedo tubes. It can carry Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

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At the beginning of April, the NRP ship Arpão sailed from Alvete Naval Base, near Lisbon, to participate in Operation Shining Shield, carried out under the auspices of NATO in the North Atlantic. For twenty days, the Allied Naval Command explains [MARCOM]This submarine was charged with monitoring “non-NATO military platforms.” [comprendre : russes]Both surface and underwater, they are known to operate in this area.

Then head towards Nok. [Groenland] For Operation Arctic 24. Once refueled and refueled, the NRP Arpão returned to sea in company with the Danish patrol ship HDMS Ejnar Mikkelsen. After crossing the Arctic Circle, while navigating the Marginal Ice Zone [ZMG]He made the first dive under the Arctic ice cap. This lasted exactly 39 hours and 30 minutes… and was followed by two more. In total, the Portuguese submarine sailed for four days under the ice.

Note that the AIP system is a specific item because it allows a diesel-electric submarine to recharge its batteries without necessarily having to surface.

Clearly, NRP Arpão did not venture into these latitudes without being prepared. Its mass protection has been strengthened [dans le cas où il lui aurait fallu briser la glace] He obtained a high-frequency sonar. This mission took seven months of preparation and benefited from the expertise of the US, Canadian and Danish navies.

Until then, the NRP Arpão was best known for being the first Portuguese Navy submarine to cross the equator, during a mission that took it to Rio de Janeiro in 2023.

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About the Author: Germano Álvares

"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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