NATO commemorates Battle of the Atlantic as US forces arrive in Iceland
Top US and Icelandic officials met in Reykjavik on Tuesday (16 October 2018) to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic, World War II’s longest continuous military campaign. On a ceremony aboard the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel THOR, Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson and Admiral James G. Foggo III, Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples and US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, jointly laid a wreath into the sea to honour all those who fell in the fight for freedom.
In his remarks, Foreign Minister Thordarson recalled the importance of Allied solidarity, and standing up for NATO’s shared values of democracy and human rights. He added: “we also remember how crucial unimpeded shipping routes over the Atlantic are for Iceland. That was certainly the case 75 years ago and it still applies today.”
Admiral Foggo stressed Iceland’s key role in the Battle of the Atlantic, saying: “Officially neutral, the Icelanders allowed British, American and Canadian servicemen and women to be stationed on their shores and to have ships, submarines and aircraft operate from Icelandic airfields and Icelandic ports.” Calling this contribution “indispensable”, Admiral Foggo thanked Iceland for its “unwavering commitment” to its Allies, and paid tribute to all “those that made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom,” including more than 200 Icelanders.
On Wednesday, US Marines will arrive in Iceland, storming a beach at Sandvík and flying into Keflavík Airport as part of NATO’s Exercise Trident Juncture. The drills, which will take place primarily in Norway, are set to be the Alliance’s largest in many years. The main phase will begin on 25 October, bringing together more than 50,000 personnel from all 29 Allies, as well as partners Finland and Sweden.