Arbroath-based 45 Commando Royal Marines have deployed to the ice of the Arctic following a rigorous quarantine period.

The deployed marines - primarily from Arbroath-based 45 Commando - are to begin their 2021 winter deployment being put through their paces in one of the world's most extreme environments. 

With barely four hours of daylight and temperatures well into the minus numbers of the host nation, Norway, hundreds of green berets will conduct their training in bubbles and in line with Covid-19 guidelines.

HeraldScotland: The insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near BardufossThe insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near Bardufoss

Exercises with Norway, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have been cancelled by the Norwegians due to Covid-19, but crucial training has resumed in the short-term for those who have been through quarantine.

45 Commando’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Innes Catton, said: “45 Commando is currently deployed in Norway conducting essential training as the Lead Commando Unit.

“As Cold Weather Warfare specialists held at very high readiness, this training is vital to retaining capability to deploy anywhere in the world in the event of crisis and to support our NATO allies in the region.

HeraldScotland: The insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near BardufossThe insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near Bardufoss

“Stringent control measures and quarantine procedures are in place to protect the local population and our people in Norway, as well as our families upon return to the UK.”

Marines are put through their paces by instructors of the Royal Marines Mountain Leader Cadre – a hardy group of commandos highly-trained and experts in all things cold weather – to be ready to survive, move and fight in the freezing conditions.

First, those who are new to the Arctic must undergo a series of intensive trials to ensure they are able to survive – building shelters, living off the land and dealing with cold shock during ice breaking drills - which involves being plunged into a hole in the ice and climbing out of the water unassisted using ski poles.

HeraldScotland: The insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near BardufossThe insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near Bardufoss

According to the Royal Navy, this brutal part of the training is designed to help participants recognise and reduce the risks of cold shock, a physical response to being immersed in cold water that can rapidly incapacitate and even lead to death.

As crossing a frozen lake or river can bring a tactical advantage, ice breaking is about preparing for being suddenly dropped into bracing water which can come with substantial risk.

After rewarming from their dip through the ice, those on the survival course head into the wilderness to construct and inhabit survival shelters.

HeraldScotland: The insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near BardufossThe insertion yomp of Commando Forces during their Cold Weather Survival Course near Bardufoss

Half the battle is managing the climate and the terrain. Snowstorms can occur suddenly, so learning the basics of survival is key to operating in the Arctic conditions.

The Cold Weather Warfare Course has three phases – survival, mobility and warfare with a view to creating a well-rounded "winter warrior", enabling the commandos to operate effectively in the unforgiving Arctic environment.

Deployed alongside 45 Commando are marines of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, Commando Logistic Regiment and Commando Helicopter Force, plus British Army troops from 24 Commando Royal Engineers and 29 Commando Royal Artillery.