For several years, Norway has been introducing new equipment and preparing for international operations. The Norwegian Navy is now ready to increase activity in the areas furthest north. They have embarked on an exercise this week.
Norway’s newest warship, the Thor Heyerdahl went out for its maiden with the Joint Viking. The Joint Viking contains units from several military factions: the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard. The exercise will take place in western Finnmark County.
The Thor Heyerdahl is named after a Norwegian adventurer who sailed across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Tuamoto Isalands on a homemade raft. His journey was made to prove that ancient civilizations could very well have survived long sea voyages and mingled with other cultures.
The Finnmark area has a challenging terrain and climate, so it will provide the Norwegian Fleet an opportunity to train above and under water. Norway has five warships of the Nansen frigate class, but this is the first to stop in the port of Kirkenes. The mission of the frigates is engagement in anti-submarine warfare. Each one has the necessary equipment to identify, engage, and attack hostile submarines. The ship can be used for anti-air warfare and anti-surface warfare as well. The frigates may be used in times of peace to carry out other necessary tasks.
In 2006, when the first Nansen-class frigate was commissioned by Norway, the personnel required a lot of training. As advances have been made, more training to operate the vessels is necessary. Personnel must be qualified and prove competency to continue to be involved in international operations such as 2009’s counter-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden.
The Nansen frigates have five decks of welded steel. They are made for stability, ease of maneuvering, and quiet sailing. All of the construction and weaponry is state-of-the-art.
Commodore Henning Amundsen states that naval activity along the coast of Norway is going to increase. The focus is on Norway now, rather than global and now that the old equipment has been phased-out and replaced with new, the goals for the fleet have changed.
Russian military authorities are not expected to see Norway’s vessels close to their border as a threat. They have had understanding during the transition period and will likely view these training exercises as a normal state of affairs. Despite disagreements over the Ukraine, authorities will maintain regional cooperation and remain removed from the activities associated with the Ukraine.
By sailing vessels around all of the coastlines, Norway’s fleets will become more familiar with the territory and improve knowledge of the climate and navigation issues.
The completion of the fleet and transition to new equipment has been a long journey, but now that it is complete, Norway can fully train its professionals and explore its own borders. Hopefully they will not require the military weapon systems any time soon, but if they do, they will be ready.