As the public marveled at the graceful tall ships that called at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for “Sailabration 2012” commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, invited guests came aboard a modern Danish warship to look at the technology of tomorrow.
Eighteen tall ships, including the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, and navy vessels from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Norway were accompanying the Navy gray hulls in the “Star Spangled Sailabration” in Baltimore.
The June 14 reception aboard the Danish navy support ship Esbern Snare took place on Flag Day, with the ships docked at Locust Point, next to Fort McHenry, famous for the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The Danish navy, in cooperation with the Embassy of Denmark in Washington and Naval Team Denmark, representing Danish industry, entertained several hundred U.S. Navy and other attendees aboard the HDMS Esbern Snare (L17), an Absalon-class support ship.
“We are by nature a modest people,” said Arne Stihoj Pedersen, a retired Danish navy captain who since retiring has served as managing director of Naval Team Denmark and now supports Terma, a Danish company that makes radars, combat systems and sensors. “But we have niche areas where we have very capable products and where we can contribute. When you look at how good our ships and our systems are, and see that we make them very effectively, efficiently and economically, you will want to look at how the Danes do it.”
“People are impressed by attributes inherent in the radar technology, and how the radar performs on the ship,” said John Mitchell, a technical services manager for Terma’s radar systems in North America.
Rear Adm. Kurt Birger Jensen, retired from the Danish navy and now director of Naval Team Denmark, which represents Denmark’s maritime defense industries, said the ship visits, tours, exhibits and receptions have allowed Danish companies to share their company profiles directly to the potential market and customer, and have greater value than the more conventional way of attending established exhibitions and seminars. “It falls well in line with the whole idea behind the establishment of Naval Team Denmark 20 years ago, to promote platforms, systems and know-how through a close cooperation with the Royal Danish Navy.”
The feedback from participating companies so far is unambiguous, Jensen said. “The event offered a unique opportunity to interact directly with senior decision makers in the U.S. administration as well as the top management level of the leading American Defense Industry. The opportunity to present the platform and the onboard systems directly to such an impressive audience is highly appreciated from participating companies.”
“The preliminary impression is that there is an overwhelming interest in learning about the Danish thinking in naval shipbuilding and a general interest in the transformation process that the Royal Danish Navy has undergone over the last decade,” said Jensen.
Jensen said the U.S. Navy has followed the development of Danish innovations in naval design ever since the introduction of the Standard Flex 300 series and the modular concept more than 20 years ago. “The need for inherent flexibility in modern naval shipbuilding is well acknowledged by the U.S. Navy as reflected in the littoral combat ship program. So the opportunity to tour the Esbern Snare and observe the modularity and design features was very well received by U.S. Navy representatives.
Compared to other Nordic Countries such as Norway and Sweden, the Danish Defense Industry is relatively small, which means that Danish companies typically concentrate on niche productions in specific areas and partnerships with prominent global companies.