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Uruguay Negotiating for Norwegian Coast Guard Nordkapp-class Offshore Patrol Vessels

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Uruguay Negotiating for Norwegian Coast Guard Nordkapp-class Offshore Patrol Vessels

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Norwegian Coast Guard Nordkapp-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)
Norwegian Coast Guard Nordkapp-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)

Uruguay is negotiating the potential procurement of three Nordkapp-class offshore patrol vessels from the Norwegian government, to cover the National Navy of Uruguay (Armada Nacional del Uruguay) current capability gap caused by the lack of any vessels suitable for patrolling the high seas. Monch reported that the procurement, said to be for about US$30 million, would scuttle the project to buy two new-build offshore patrol vessels at approx $200 million, for which China Shipbuilding Trading Co., Ltd. (CSTC) had been selected – a decision that resulted in strong pressure from the US to abandon that solution.

The Nordkapp class is a Norwegian Coast Guard ship class built in the 1980s, and is used for rescue, fishery inspection, research purposes and general EEZ patrol in Norwegian waters. It is a class of ships purpose-built for the Norwegian Coast Guard with a secondary role as wartime naval escorts. The Norwegian Coast Guard is a part of the Royal Norwegian Navy, and has some police authority. The Nordkapp-class is named after North Cape, in Norwegian: Nordkapp, which is also the name of one of the vessels of the class. The Nordkapp-class vessels are to be replaced from 2022 by the new, and larger, Jan-Mayen class patrol vessels currently under construction.

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Norwegian Navy HNoMS Nordkapp
Norwegian Navy offshore patrol vessel HNoMS Nordkapp. (Photo by Forsvaret)

Further details of the possible Nordkapp purchase have not yet been revealed, including the extent of customisation that may be involved or the embedded equipment that may be delivered with them. The vessels have been upgraded several; times, in 2001-2003, 2006 and 2015-2017, when they received MTU 8V and 12V 2000 diesel generators. There will also be main engine maintenance to be conducted, as well as hull modifications. The vessels feature a false keel, installed to improve engine cooling, but which increases their draft and complicates operations in waters such as those in the Rio de la Plata.

Nordkapp-class offshore patrol vessels are capable of ice browsing, they feature reinforced hulls for operations in ice. Due to the fact that these vessels may serve as wartime naval escorts (were originally intended to act as corvettes) they have provisions to carry additional weapons and sensors, such as Penguin (designated AGM-119 by the U.S. military) anti-ship missiles, torpedo tubes, 20mm guns and Mistral short range anti-aircraft systems. NoCGV Nordkapp was transferred to the Navy’s mine warfare branch in November 2022, and changed her prefix to HNoMS. In 2023 she will operate as the flagship in Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.

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