Three 10 year ensemble decadal forecast experiments have been performed with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts coupled forecast system using an initialization strategy common in seasonal forecasting with realistic initial conditions. One experiment initializes the ocean in a standard way using an ocean-only simulation forced with an atmospheric reanalysis and with strong relaxation to observed sea surface temperatures. The other two experiments initialize the ocean from a similar ocean-only run that, in addition, assimilates subsurface observations. This is the first time that these experiments were performed. The system drifts from the realistic initial conditions toward the model climate, the drift being of the same order as, if not larger than, the interannual signal. There are small drift differences in the three experiments that reflect mainly the influence of dynamical ocean processes in controlling the adjustment between the initialized state and the model climate in the extratropics. In spite of the drift, the predictions show that the system is able to skillfully predict some of the interannual variability of the global and regional air and ocean temperature. No significant forecast quality benefit of the assimilation of ocean observations is found over the extratropics, although a negative impact of the assimilation of incorrect expendable bathythermograph profiles has been found for the global mean upper ocean heat content and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. The results illustrate the importance of reducing the important model drift and the ocean analysis uncertainty.