Courtesy of Surface SITREP. Republished with the permission of the Surface Navy Association
Norway’s five Fridtjof Nansen Aegis-guided missile frigates were built for escort operations in the North Atlantic and defending Norway’s long, rugged coastline, but have found themselves working in warmer waters.
Norway has participated in coalition operations, including NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean and the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East. Most recently, the lead ship in the class, HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational exercise in waters off Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.
“The Nansen-class is highly interoperable with the U.S. Navy. We have the Aegis systems capable of a tight integration with other Aegis ships. We hold the relevant SATCOM-facilities supporting command and control such as CENTRIX, chat, mail, VTC and other systems as required.”
Commander (SG) Odd Erling Furu, commanding officer of the Nansen, says coalition operations requires a high degree of interoperability, with similar systems and common communications and data links, such as LINK 11 and 16. “The Nansen-class is highly interoperable with the U.S. Navy. We have the Aegis systems capable of a tight integration with other Aegis ships. We hold the relevant SATCOM-facilities supporting command and control such as CENTRIX, chat, mail, VTC and other systems as required.”
Beyond systems, Furu says there are the usual differences in procedures, ways and means to exercise command and control, and human beings with different cultures, but that his ship and crew is able to work effectively with the USN in both low intensity and high intensity warfighting. “To achieve the necessary interoperability, in practical terms, it’s necessary to train regularly with the USN. The Nansen-class has conducted several exercises with carrier strike groups, and we recently participated in RIMPAC – which is quite a long trip from Norway – more than 10,000 nm.”
“These exercises are important to ensure that we are ready to operate in a coalition, and equipped and trained to cooperate with our most important ally, the United States of America,” Furu says. “The Nansen class is, from my point of view, an attractive partner and [able] to really integrate and contribute in a U.S.-led coalition.”
Furu says the Nansen-class has replaced Norway’s Oslo-class frigates with modern, highly capable combatants for anti-air warfare (AAW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and most of all anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
The 440-foot (134 meter) frigates displace 5,300 tons. They were built in Spain by Navantia, which also built Spain’s Alvaro Bazan-class Aegis frigates. The lead ship was commissioned in 2006. Although bigger than the Oslo-class, they have a slightly lower profile than most contemporary surface combatants to enable the ships to slip under bridges in Norwegian ports.
Furu says the frigates have an advanced French ASW-system, some Norwegian Command and Control systems and the Aegis combat system for AAW and overall command and control, built around the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F 3-D multifunction radar.