Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Norwegian Navy Receives Last of Five Fridtjof Nansen-Class Frigates

Navantia Delivers HMNS Thor Heyerdahl to the Royal Norwegian Navy

The delivery of HMNS Thor Heyerdahl to the Royal Norwegian Navy by the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia on 18 January marked a significant milestone for the service: it represents the end of the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate procurement programme after almost two decades of planning, development and construction. Further, it is Norway’s largest defence acquisition and a key element of the Scandinavian country’s naval capabilities, replacing the Oslo-class frigates, which have been in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy since 1966. 

After the project was approved by Parliament in 1999 and orders for five vessels were awarded to Navantia in mid-2000, the lead ship of the class, HMNS Fridtjof Nansen (F310), was launched in June 2004 and commissioned on 5 April 2006. All vessels have been named after famous Norwegian explorers. 

HMNS Thor Heyerdahl, the last of five frigates of the F301 class and bearing the name of Norway’s famous explorer and anthropologist (1914-2002), was handed over to the Norwegian Armed Forces at the Navantia shipyard in Ferrol, Spain. The handover ceremony was attended by the Director General of the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (NDLO), General Trond Karlsen, and the Presidents of the state-owned Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) and of Navantia.
On Tuesday, Navantia stated: “With this frigate the Fene-Ferrol Shipyard proves again that is at the forefront of world military shipbuilding and became the great frigates technologist internationally.” According to the Madrid-headquartered company, the F310 is based on the F-100 class of frigates, developed and built for the Spanish Navy. Being primarily designed and equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions, the vessels can also be equipped with the AEGIS combat system to carry our air defence operations.

In addition to its on-board weapon systems, including the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship and land-attack missile and four torpedo tubes to launch Sting Ray torpedoes, the Norwegian frigates will be equipped with a total of six ordered NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) for ASW and search and rescue (SAR) purposes. The helicopters will be operated by the 334th Squadron of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

On the occasion of the handover, Norwegian Defence Minister Grete Faremo said: “I am very pleased that we have now taken delivery of the fifth and final frigate. They constitute a very important part of the Norwegian Armed Forces and will help us get the most modern navy.”

“The frigate project has contributed positively to the development of bilateral cooperation between Norway and Spain,” added Faremo. Furthermore, the Defence Minister emphasised that the project largely benefitted Norwegian industry, with more than 250 Norwegian companies receiving orders within the framework of related offset agreements. The Defence Ministry states that contracts, worth approximately NOK1 billion, have been awarded by the government to shipbuilding companies and sub-suppliers.

According to the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the five frigates have been delivered well within the approved cost limit of some NOK19 billion ($3.25 billion; € 2.41 billion). Navantia states that the initial contract for the five ships awarded in June 2000 was valued at €1.1 billion and, at that time, its largest naval export order.


• Overall length: 133.25m
• Maximum Beam: 16.80 m
• Depth to main deck: 9.50 m
• Full load displacement: 5,130 t
• Top speed: over 26 knots
• Engine power: over 40,000 hp
• Range: 4,500 nautical miles
• Crew: 127 people

Weapon Systems: 
• New anti-surface Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
• Evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) air-defence missile
• 76 mm Oto Breda gun (anti-surface and -air)
• Stingray torpedo (anti-submarine)
• NH90 helicopter (with Stingray torpedo)

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