Editor’s Note: I’m not sure how many of you have been to Iceland, but for my compatriots and I, it’s a place on our bucket list, and for a lot of reasons. This story reminds me of the first Tom Clancy novel I ever read and how pivotal of a role this tiny island country in the North Atlantic plays in world geopolitics and NATO/Russian military strategy. I’ll refrain from quoting Sean Connery, but read on and you’ll catch our drift!
The Navy is turning to a former Cold War air base for a familiar mission — hunting Russian submarines.
The service is asking for funds to upgrade an aircraft hangar at its former base in Keflavik, Iceland, as part of the Defense Department’s fiscal 2017 budget request, according to Navy officials. The hangar will house the P-8 Poseidon, successor to the sub-hunting P-3 Orion once stationed at the base.
Naval Air Station Keflavik was home to thousands of servicemembers who supported Navy and Air Force fighter jets, tankers and rescue helicopters before closing in 2006.
The Navy now routinely sends P-3’s to Keflavik from its air base in Sicily to patrol for Russian subs in the North Atlantic, a Navy official said. The P-8 will fill the same role once the hangar is updated with new wiring, flooring and a rinse station, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record about the project.
Russian submarines are patrolling the North Atlantic more frequently than at any time since the end of the Cold War, U.S. and European defense officials say. Suspected Russian subs have been spotted repeatedly off the coast of the United Kingdom, as well as Norway and Finland in the past year.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work visited Keflavik last September to explore new uses for the installation. Icelandic media reported that he raised the possibility of reopening the base.
The Steven Beardsley’s original post on Stripes.com can be viewed here.