A TROWBRIDGE dad has become the first UK civil servant to participate in a series of challenging submarine trials in the freezing Arctic Circle.

MoD employee Lee Kyte, of Summer Down Walk, spent five weeks in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, after volunteering for the Ice exercise 18 project, after working alongside the US Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory.

The 42-year-old was tasked with fitting equipment to the HMS Trenchant submarine, driving forklifts, stocking the hangar store with supplies, talking to staff about the submarine’s performance, liaising with his work back in England and contending with temperatures below minus 30 Celsius.

“This was an unforgettable experience - I will treasure the time I had out there,” said Mr Kyte, a member of the Combat Systems team within the Submarine Delivery Agency at MoD Abbey Wood.

“I am based near Bristol where I work with my submarine delivery agency. This opportunity to go out there came up and I thought it was too good an offer to turn down.

“When I was told I was the first UK civil servant to do this, it made it even more special.

“I thought I was well suited to the various roles. We got a helicopter ride to the spot of the HMS Trenchant, which had surfaced through a two-foot thick ice blanket.

HMS Trenchant joined US submarines USS Connecticut and USS Hartford for the drills. These are very important in maintaining the operational readiness of the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet and in maintaining the security of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Despite loving his time away, bar the brutally cold temperatures, Mr Kyte was delighted to see his family again after a long time away.

“I have never been so cold in my life. It was minus 30 Celsius and with the wind-chill it was close to minus 50 Celsius,” he said.

“It was an amazing place to go to, the sunsets were fantastic but it was nice returning home to my my wife and three children. It was great to reunite with them.”

Mr Kyte said he would jump at the chance to go back.

“It was like nothing I have ever experienced and if I could return, I definitely would,” said Mr Kyte.

“These opportunities do not come round all that often.”