Step Aboard the Seawolf: The Secret Submarines the Navy Doesn’t Want to Talk About

    David Axe


    But we know all about them. 

    So what was Seawolf doing under the ice? Most likely simply training … for fighting under ice. For a submarine crew, going to the Arctic “gives us the opportunity to test our combat systems, our navigation systems, our communication systems and just what it’s like to operate in this very challenging environment,” Roughead said four years ago. And there are good reasons besides a tradition of secrecy to do so quietly. Consider Moscow’s reaction to the 2009 ICEX. “Any action by foreign submarines in the vicinity of Russia’s maritime borders naturally demand heightened scrutiny on our part,” a Kremlin spokesperson warned.

    Sometime apparently in August 2013, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Seawolf eased out of the port of Bremerton, in Washington State, on what was probably her fifth or sixth deployment since commissioning in 1997.

    A month later the U.S. Sixth Fleet, in charge of ships in European waters, posted a series of photos to the Website Flickr depicting the U.S. ambassador to Norway, Barry White, touring the 350-foot-long Seawolf pierside at Haakonsvern naval base … in southern Norway. Thousands of miles from Washington State.

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    How Seawolf got to Norway—and what she might have done en route—offer a rare and tantalizing glimpse into some of the most secretive quarters of the most poorly understood aspects of American naval power.

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