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Absalon Class Littoral Support Ships

'LCS on Steroids' is a paradigm shift for the Danish navy

The ship has a lot of usable volume for boats, vehicles, cargo and containerized modules in the FSD.

“This compartment is usable for everything,” says Rasmussen. “It is imagination that decides what you can use the space for.”

“It’s LCS on steroids,” he says.

Berthing modules, flex-deck

Cmdr. (SG) Rasmussen shows the berthing modules on his ship’s flexible support deck. Photo by Edward Lundquist

Specialists can be embarked with their equipment depending upon the mission. “If we’re doing counter-piracy operations I’ll have a Special Maritime Insertion Unit on board. These are special operations people from the Danish Frogmen Corps, Maritime EOD and Navy Military Police. We carry a paramedic (our sickbay has one surgical position and four racks for patients), but in counter piracy ops we’ll bring aboard additional emergency care paramedics and specialists, and a surgeon, as well an interpreter and a maritime lawyer,” says Rasmussen.

During the recent DANEX-NOCO 2012 exercise, the exercise staff worked from a containerized command center inside the FSD. “I am hosting a very large staff of about 31 onboard. That’s a lot of extra people to feed and support with the network and bandwidth and everything else they need,” Rasmussen says.


Terma C-Flex

The Terma C-Flex combat management system in CIC is efficient and functional. “It’s really quiet in here, even with aircraft flying all around,” says Rasmussen. “You have really nice situational awareness.”

Rasmussen says the tactical action officer has everything in front of him on one screen. “We have the Terma C-Flex combat management system. Everything here – EW, radar, sonar, the link – is integrated.”

Virtually any console in CIC can be used interchangeably. The only exception is the gun-firing console, which is unique in that it has a pedal to the gun safety lock-out. The Harpoon has its own dedicated firing panel – although missile attack planning is done in C-Flex – as does the MU90 torpedo.


Cmdr. (SG) Rasmussen says the ships combat information center, which runs on the Terma C-Flex combat management system, is efficient and quiet. Photo by Edward Lundquist

“The Terma Scanter search radar we carried onboard for our recent U.S. deployment was not the standard Scanter 2001 model we usually have. We have the upgraded Terma Scanter 6000 model as a demonstration. It’s a great surface search and helicopter flight controlling radar,” Rasmussen says. “We want to keep it.”

Esbern Snare has a crew of 99, including 17 officers and 13 petty officers. People must be flexible. For example, cooks and bakers also conduct helo flight deck launch and recovery and man the .50 caliber guns. “When we’re in two shifts, everyone must serve themselves in the mess, but when we’re in three shifts the tables will be laid out for the officers and petty officers. In port the galley is shut down and everyone eats at the mess ashore,” says Rasmussen.

Rasmussen says habitability on the new ships is very good, with two-person staterooms for most of the crew, and some 4-person rooms for enlisted crewmembers. All the staterooms have in-suite showers.


Air Arm

Denmark has eight Lynx helicopters that can operate on ships, and Esbern Snare has hangar space for up two Lynx or could carry two SH-60s.

The Absalon-class can carry two helicopters; the new frigates just one, as room is needed aft for the MK 41 vertical launch system. “We currently operate the Westland Super Lynx MK 90B helicopter. But Denmark is acquiring a new helicopter,” says Rasmussen.

“The competition is now down to the Lynx AW 159 Wildcat and the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk,” says Jensen.

L16 Absalon with Lynx

Esbern Snare’s sister ship Absalon (L16) with a Westland Lynx embarked. The Danish navy is holding a competition for its next naval helicopter, with an improved Lynx and a U.S. Sikorsky Seahawk variant in contention for the contract.
Photo by Kim Storm Martin,

The air detachment for one Lynx consists of a pilot, and air observer, and one or two other crew members, and the detachment has its own ready room for flight planning and debriefing, locker room for flight gear and storeroom for equipment. “They don’t have the tactical picture in their ready room, but they usually have one of the members of their detachment in the operations room getting the TACSIT [tactical situation],” Rasmussen says.

“Our naval air arm is now part of the air force, but they still go by naval ranks and wear naval uniforms,” he says. “They’re still the same guys.”

Rasmussen says the Terma Scanter radar has excellent resolution for tracking and controlling the helicopter, especially at night or in bad weather.

The Absalon-class is fitted with the Harpoon light helicopter landing aid (not to be confused with the missile) that allows the helo to connect a probe to a grid on the deck and land safely. It’s mounted on a turntable, so the aircraft can be oriented in any direction desired. “In the past, we would have to keep the wind 20 degrees off the bow to launch or recover the helo,” Rasmussen says. “With the Harpoon system, we can turn the helicopter into the wind on the turntable for launch.”

While there is significant flexibility with what you can accomplish with the Absalon class, Rasmussen says their naval force structure is pretty much set right now. “We’re not looking at anything new. We have our hands full with the three new frigates, and programs to replace our helos and the F-16.”

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...