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Your Questions About ICEX Answered

This is the 21st blog post in a series about ICEX 2011 by Jeff Gossett, Arctic Submarine Laboratory’s ICEX 2011 Exercise Director written on March 25, 2011.

One of the advantages of posting and linking these posts on social media is that the readers have an opportunity to ask questions on topics that I haven’t thought to discuss.  This post will answer some of those questions.

We had several questions from readers whose fathers are serving on the submarines.  They deserve to be answered first.

Q.  One asks whether their father’s duties as a machinist mate would be different while he is operating at the ice camp.

A.  Not really.  The machinery operates the same here as it does anywhere.  Your father is still standing the same watches and carrying out the same tasks.

Q.  Another asks a related question about how cold it is in the submarine now and whether their father is able to stay warm.

A.  Don’t worry.  Your father is nice and warm.  The submarine is at the same temperature as in any other ocean – boats normally keep their thermostat at about 72 degrees and can overcome any outside or seawater temperature.

Q.  Another daughter asks whether it is scary.

A.  Not scary at all.  I’ve been under the ice on submarines over 20 times and don’t remember any of the crewmen every being afraid.  When your father comes home, he will probably use words like “exciting”, or “adventure”, or “once in a lifetime”, but not “scary”.

Q.  The same daughter asks how hard the ice is that NEW HAMPSHIRE is surfacing through and whether it is difficult to break through.

A.  For this exercise, NEW HAMPSHIRE is only surfacing through either open water or slush.  The thickest they will surface through is about the same as a snow cone or a Slurpee.  CONNECTICUT is surfacing through 2-3 feet of ice.  This is about as hard as a sheet of sidewalk concrete.  Given that CONNECTICUT weighs several thousand tons, is as big as a 10 story building, and has a specially strengthened sail, these breakthroughs are not difficult at all.

Will hope to answer more questions later.  If you have one, post it on Facebook.  I won’t be able to answer all of them but I’ll do what I can.  Meanwhile, here’s another great picture of NEW HAMPSHIRE on the surface.




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