Friday, June 14, 2024

The Prime Minister on a trip with a submarine in the Oslo Fjord: – Exciting

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Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) had a look in the periscope when he visited the submarine KNM Utvær in the Oslofjord outside Horten on Friday. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB

Of NTB | 24.05.2024 19:17:48

Policy: While the royal ship Norway was sailing on an eerily calm Oslofjord outside Horten on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) himself got to steer one of Norway’s submarines 150 meters below the surface in the same area. Although Støre has previously been inside a submarine, the experience on Friday was the first where he went down with the vessel into the depths.

– Life 150 meters underwater is exciting, too. But to speak seriously, I am very impressed by the crew, which shows the strength of a team, says Støre to NTB after the trip.

KNM Utvær is one of the Norwegian Navy’s six operational submarines. At the invitation of the Chief of Naval Staff, the Prime Minister was transported out in one of the speedboats of the Norwegian Defense Forces’ special forces.

Just north of Horten, in the middle of the fjord, the submarine was called up and, almost like a spy vessel, it appeared completely silently from the black water in the fog. Together with a small entourage, the Prime Minister entered the 59-metre-long, black steel tube, which has the task of monitoring and securing Norwegian sea areas.

This weekend, it will openly pay a visit to Oslo.

– We need to monitor the conditions in our sea areas. Look after our interests on the surface of the sea and below, and in the air. This is connected. We have seven times more sea and seabed than we have land in this country. And Norway must have good capacities in this area, says Støre.

– The reason for the submarine visit is that the biggest investment in the new long-term plan is the development of future naval defence. And the government proposes, among other things, the acquisition of at least five new submarines, which is one of the important military capacities for Norway, the Prime Minister’s office wrote about the visit to KNM Utvær on Friday afternoon.

Under the motto “present and invisible”, the Norwegian Navy currently operates six submarines of the ULA class. They are in continuous operation along the coast, and are described as a strategically important capacity to secure Norwegian waters.

The submarines routinely go through extensive maintenance, but now they are getting old. All of today’s vessels in the Ula class were acquired around 1990. They are scheduled to be replaced, and Norway has ordered four new submarines of the 212 class from the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (tkMS).

The order is part of a strategic collaboration with Germany, which has ordered similar submarines, and all of which will operate from a newly built base at Haakonsvern in Bergen. The delivery of the first of the four is scheduled to take place in 2029.

The price for the four submarines that have been ordered is estimated by Defense Materials to cost NOK 48 billion.

However, Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen has been clear that the Norwegian Defense Forces wants two more submarines. This is therefore partially provided for in the proposal for a long-term plan that the Storting will decide on on 6 June. There, the government proposes to go for the acquisition of five submarines, and enters into an option for a sixth.

– Five submarines enable simultaneous and continuous operations in our sea areas, the government writes in the proposal.

But leisure boats and hobby fishermen were about to start the weekend on the fjord a little over, the crew carried out a short exercise on attack, fire and shelling. Evasive maneuvers and deep dives went at breakneck speed, orders and confirmations passed through the dense air in the operating room, while the guest of honor stood on the sidelines and was explained what happened.

– I emphasize having such visits to show the employees and the privates in the Armed Forces that we are grateful for what they do, follow and show interest in what they do. And I’m interested, says Støre.

Before he himself was brought back to the surface, the crew at KNM Utvær served the prime minister a variation of Friday tacos. On a submarine, crews share beds and take turns sleeping and eating.

It’s cramped, but the culture outside the command room is informal and polite. Sitting directly under the picture of King Harald, Støre was allowed to share a meal with part of the crew.

The Norwegian submarines are tasked, among other things, with deterring the Russians from violating Norwegian interests in the northern areas.

The construction of the new submarines at the shipyard in Kiel started in September last year and was marked by the fact that Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram (Sp) was present, where he also signed a new defense and security agreement with Germany on behalf of Norway.

The Prime Minister, who himself achieved the rank of ensign in the Navy after graduating from officers’ school, was welcomed by both the ship’s commander and the rest of the crew. After a short briefing, he himself got to steer the 1,150-tonne submarine into the depths of the Oslo Fjord.

(© NTB)

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