Norway sends its navy’s most modern warship to Svalbard to show presence and ensure sovereignty in the territorial waters of Svalbard and Bear Island.
The frigate “KNM Thor Heyerdahl” on Wednesday left the port of Bodø in Northern Norway and sailed for the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
“Our main task is to show presence on Svalbard and in the surrounding waters”, Captain Per Rostad says to the Armed Forces’ web site. During the mission the frigate will conduct a series of drills, with other military units and the Norwegian Sea Rescue.
The Norwegian Parliament has decided that the navy will send one large naval vessel to Svalbard every year to ensure Norwegian sovereignty in the area. Increased military presence in the Arctic is part of the Norwegian Government’s strategy for development of the High North and a prioritized task for the Armed Forces.
“There are two F-16 jet fighters stationed in Bodø to ensure Norwegian interests in the High North. We will be training together with these and other surveillance aircraft patrolling the area”, Rostad says to Avisa Nordland.
“KNM Thor Heyerdahl” was taken into service in 2011. It is the last of five frigates to be built for the Norwegian Navy at the Spanish shipyard Navantia in the period 2006-2010. The NOK 21 billion (app €2,9 billion) investment is the largest in the country’s armed forces so far.
The new frigates are said to be important for Norway’s sovereignty in the High North. The vessels are, however, a rare sight in the Arctic. The frigates spend most of their time at port at Haakonsvern near Bergen in the south, because of serious problems with lack of crew.