June 29 (UPI) -- The United States and five NATO allies began a 12-day anti-submarine warfare exercise in the North Atlantic Ocean on Monday, the U.S. Navy reported.
Called Dynamic Mongoose, the annual exercise off the coast of Iceland is designed to promote interoperability of the allies'submarine and surface vessels, and includes daily "hunting and being hunted" submarine drills.
The navies of Canada, France, Germany, Norway and the United States are involved, and Iceland, although not a participant, provides logistical support and serves as the host nation.
The United States sent the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt and submarine USS Indiana to the exercise. Two U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft will join British and French patrol planes as well.
"This exercise is a unique opportunity to enhance naval forces' war-fighting skills in all dimensions of anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare in a multinational and multi-threat environment," said Rear Admiral E. Andrew Burcher, NATO submarines commander, in a statement.
The drill comes as NATO has focused attention to the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans, where Russian presence has increased, and where melting sea ice has made navigation, by commercial and military vessels, easier.
In reopening long-closed Soviet bases and deploying air defense systems in the Arctic, Moscow has "taken an aggressive approach to the Arctic," Adm. James Foggo, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander, said last week.
Russian forces could potentially damage undersea cables transmitting electronic data between the United States and Europe, for example.
"We're seeing a new area of maritime competition in the Arctic. Strong navies are needed to protect common interests and ensure the timely flow of trade," Foggo told the International Institute for Strategic Studies last week.
The U.S. Navy said the exercises will be conducted entirely at sea to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.