On Monday 13 January, the Norwegian frigate HNoMS “Otto Sverdrup” set sail and left Bergen, launching its 7-month mission as flagship for NATO’s standing naval fleet SNMG1. Until August, the frigate will sail in the waters of Northern Europe. Aboard are the Norwegian force commander Yngve Skoglund and his staff. Norway took command of the force in December 2019 and after a few weeks of preparations, the mission started last month. After a short stop in Norway’s capital Oslo, “Otto Sverdrup” sailed southwards to the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. From aboard the frigate, Skoglund and his staff have command of the naval fleet of four to six destroyers and frigates. The staff has NATO personnel from six countries. From aboard the frigate, Skoglund and his staff have command of the naval fleet of four to six destroyers and frigates. The staff has NATO personnel from six countries. This is Skoglund’s ninth year working for NATO, and he says serving the Alliance is both exciting and rewarding. He says NATO is important for Norway, and that the Royal Norwegian Navy participates regularly and actively with naval capacities into the Alliance.
NMG1 is a flexible force that can conduct warfare below the surface, on the surface, and in the air. If necessary, it will be among the first NATO forces to respond in the waters of Northern Europe. The alliance’s presence in North European waters is important for its member countries. Skoglund underlines that the presence is not be seen as a provocation to anyone, including Russia. NATO has four standing maritime forces in Europe: two destroyer/frigate groups (SNMG1 and SNMG2) and two mine countermeasures groups (SNMCMG1 and SNMCMG2). The four groups are sailing constantly and are ready to respond immediately if necessary. SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 are deployed in the waters of Northern Europe, while SNMG2 and SNMCMG2 operate in Southern Europe. In the first half of 2020, Norway has the command of SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 – both of NATO’s standing maritime forces in Northern Europe.
HNoMS Otto Sverdrup is a Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate of the Royal Norwegian Navy. Built by the Spanish shipbuilders Navantia, in Ferrol, Otto Sverdrup was the third of the Fridtjof Nansen class to be launched and then commissioned into the Royal Norwegian Navy. The Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates are a class of frigates that are the main surface combatant units of the Royal Norwegian Navy. The ships are named after famous Norwegian explorers, with the lead ship of the class bearing the name of Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian scientist, explorer and humanitarian. Five ships were ordered from Spanish shipbuilder Bazan (now Navantia). The total projected cost for all five ships is USD 2.54 billion.