Norway is experiencing a renaissance— a rebirth that promises to change the composition, mission, and structure of its fleet. Broad in scope, it amounts to a stem-to- stern overhauling of its entire naval defenses. Most dramatic of the improvements being made is the construction of five entirely new classes of warships. This ambitious program, jointly financed by Norway and the United States, is called the Cost-Sharing Ship Construction Program. It is actually part of a broader, more encompassing modernization program called the Norwegian Navy Fleet Plan of 1960.
This would be an ambitious undertaking for any country. It is especially so for Norway, where new naval construction has been a long time in coming. Not since 1905 have the Norwegians engaged in any significant naval construction. The reason is simple; until the present, they did not have to—or at least they did not think they had to.
The events that led to the wholesale rebuilding of the Norwegian Navy had their roots in the past. To understand fully the motivation behind this massive modernization, it is necessary to review briefly some events leading up to it.
During the 126 years prior to World War II, Norway had been at peace. Aside from serving a brief, unwilling stint during the Napoleonic wars at Denmark’s insistence, Norway had been at peace since 1720. As a consequence, its policy of neutrality had become part of the national character.
Norway’s miraculous ability to stay out of World War I served to strengthen further this doctrine of neutrality. Between the wars, Norway joined the League of Nations, throwing itself wholeheartedly into the area of mediation and arbitration as a means for settling international disputes. During the 1920s the Norwegians, led and inspired by Fridtjof Nansen’s exemplary accomplishments in prisoner-of-war repatriation and international relief work, made valuable contributions to international co-operation. By the time World War II broke out, neutrality had so infused the national thinking that it had become, as one Norwegian authority put it, “an unwritten part of the Constitution.”
That Norway declared itself neutral at the War’s outbreak was, therefore, not surprising. It was done as a matter of course. Norwegian neutrality had not, however, reckoned on Hitler and his ruthless blitzkrieg. As a result, on 9 April 1940, when Nazi forces attacked in strength at several strategic points along the coast, the Norwegians were unprepared.
The war cost Norway dearly. Two hundred years without a battle had not conditioned its armed forces for Hitler’s “lightning war.” The cost was high in terms of lives lost, facilities and communities razed, and a long and bitter occupation which no Norwegian will ever forget.
For the Norwegian Navy, which was antiquated, ill-equipped, and spread over 14 degrees of latitude, defense against the assault proved hopeless.
At the start of World War II, Norway had an ancient navy consisting of two armored coastal defense ships almost 40 years of age, nine light destroyers (ranging from 570 to 700 tons), nine small submarines, and several assorted minecraft, torpedo boats, and small coastal defense vessels of various sizes. The heaviest ships to see action were the old coastal defense vessels Eidsvold and Norge, both 4,200 tons, built in 1901, adequately armored but poorly gunned. Logistic support came from two old coastal defense vessels of an even greater vintage—the Harald Haarjagre and the Tordenskiold, actually both out of commission but carried on the Navy register as “depot ships.” With the exception of the Olav Tryggvason, a minelayer of 1,900 tons, three 500- ton Sleipner-class “destroyers,” and the Fridtjof Nansen, a fishery protection vessel mounting two 4-inch guns, there was not a single modern combatant vessel in the Royal Norwegian Navy when war broke out.
Not all the concentration of the Norwegian fleet, even disallowing its deployment along a 12,000-mile coastline and its low state of readiness, could have altered the issue of the invasion campaign. A woefully inadequate and outmoded navy was confronted by surprise attack, and it proved no match for the overwhelmingly superior German forces. During the battle for Norway, 9 April to 7 June 1940, the Norwegian Navy lost 94 ships and small craft, or over 82 per cent of its seagoing forces. It lost 283 officers and men during the same period.
When Hider ignored Norwegian neutrality and launched Operation Weseriibung, the amphibious assault on Norway, a severe blow was dealt the proponents of the traditional Norwegian policy of neutrality, but it was not a death blow.
In the years following the cessation of hostilities, the doctrine of neutrality lingered on in the form of a policy that the government explained as being “free of alliances.” Norway joined the United Nations and once again strove idealistically to achieve collective security without taking sides.
When the rift between the great powers of East and West took place, and the two mighty power blocks began to emerge, Norway at first refused to join either of them. It preferred to walk the middle ground, hoping that its neutrality would serve as a viable bridge between the great powers, while at the same time endeavoring to solve its own security problem within the framework of the United Nations.
Norway’s policy, however high-principled, was contingent upon two basic conditions: that the United Nations could directly become a workable and efficient organ for collective security, and that a policy of no “entangling alliances” could directly serve as a bridge between the power blocks and could help in some measure in achieving rapprochement between East and West.
Unfortunately for Norway, and for the whole world, these two basic prerequisites for neutrality were never met. The veto clause in the Security Council made a travesty of parliamentary procedure and the day-to-day business of the United Nations. To make matters worse, circumstances in Eastern Europe took a turn which caused Norway, as well as most other free and independent, democratic nations, to re-examine closely their traditional alignments.
The Soviet Union, which already had extended its territory and sphere of influence considerably during and after the War, began once more its relentless policy of subversion and take-over-by-force. The small independent nations of Eastern Europe one by one disappeared from the map, and the word “Satellite” became commonplace.
It has been said that, for Norway, the deciding factor—the catalyst—that caused it to reject its long-standing policy of neutrality was the coup carried out in Czechoslovakia in February of 1948. The overthrow of the Masaryk government crystallized, for all to see, the true aims of Russian-led international Communism.
The idealistic blinders that had for so long covered Norwegian eyes fell away. Here was an event that could be readily interpreted. Czechoslovakia was an established democracy. Its policy, like Norway’s, was strongly in favor of building a bridge between East and West. It even had strong pro-Russian traditions. But no matter; in less than two weeks after the Communist coup d’état of 25 February 1948, pro-Western Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk conveniently died “as a result of a fall” from a window of the Foreign Ministry, and the take-over was complete. Czechoslovakia was impressed into the growing ranks of Russian Satellite states.
It seems paradoxical that the worst enemy of freedom should be the prime motivator in driving the Norwegians to a change in their defense policy. In the light of the Czechoslovakian take-over, Norway became acutely aware of its own highly exposed position. It would be forced to take sides, and the West would have to be its choice. Traditionally close bonds with England and the United States, plus an overwhelmingly Western culture demanded it.
As a consequence, Norway, like Denmark, strongly endorsed NATO in 1949. Soviet diplomatic pressure aimed at keeping Norway out of NATO met with little success. The Russians, of course, made great play of the fact that Norway shared a common frontier with the Soviet Union. The salient result of the exchange of notes involved, was a declaration by the Norwegian government to the effect that bases would not be made available to foreign armed forces on Norwegian territory “as long as Norway is not attacked nor exposed to threats of attack.”
While the Soviet take-over in Czechoslovakia provided the political catalyst for changing Norwegian minds about joining NATO, there were other factors too, some economic and many geographic.
Forced by the geographical features of their country, Norwegians live, to a high degree, by and from the sea. Northernmost of the Scandinavian countries, it depends almost entirely on the sea for imports of many basic foodstuffs as well as that salient staple of the Norwegian diet, fish. Four out of five Norwegians live within 12 miles of the sea— within walking distance in a country where walking is a national pastime.
Norway’s merchant fleet supplies over one-third of the gross national product. The Norwegian Merchant marine is listed in the June 1964 issue of Merchant Fleets of the World, an official release published by the U. S. Maritime Administration, as being the world’s second largest in terms of carrying capacity, comprising 1,401 ships totalling 20,014,000 deadweight tons. Seaborne imports comprise nearly 40 per cent of national income, and over 50,000 Norwegians earn their pay in the merchant marine. Despite Norway’s small population of only 3.5 millions, its ships carry nearly ten per cent of the world’s cargoes. Except for hydroelectric power, Norway has few other natural resources worth mentioning.
Hence shipping is Norway’s economic mainstay—its lifeblood. For reasons of simple survival-economics, then, Norwegian defense planners concentrated on fleet modernization, realizing that Norway’s ports and seacoasts would have to be protected at all costs.
A look at any map will reveal some geographically startling facts. An extremely long country, Norway has a 2,100-mile north- south coastline. If you measure the deep indentations of fjords and bays plus the sinuosities of the larger islands, this distance stretches to over 12,000 miles. With a wealth of protected harbors and deep, ice-free fjords, Norway is a submariner’s paradise.
Another look at the map shows that Norway is in a geographic position to control the exits from both the Barents and Baltic Seas. Finally, as we trace its boundaries, we find that Norway has a 122-mile common border with Russia. This makes it the only NATO country, besides Turkey, that shares a common border with the Soviet Union. It is this border which anchors NATO’s northern flank. And it is Norway’s long and narrow shape that constitutes the northern third of the NATO periphery.
The perceptive eye will see at a glance, too, that Norway lies directly across the air route from the Kola Peninsula to the West. Any Soviet air attack on the United States or Great Britain from the general direction of Kola, must overfly Norway. Norway’s value to the enemy for use as an advanced base or for the construction of submarine pens would be considerable. With these facts in mind, it is easy to see why Norway plays such an important role in the defense of NATO and, indeed, the entire Free World.
Norwegian defense planners realistically recognized that, based on Norway’s tremendous coastline, its absolute dependence on the sea, and the Russian threat to the North, two fundamental military decisions had to be made:
(1) Within the restricted availability of funds, Norway had to acquire enough ships to spread along a line that extends from Kirkenes near the Russian border in the north, to Halden on the Swedish border in the south. Of necessity, the ships had to be inexpensive, nighly versatile, and of sufficient numbers to spread over 14 degrees of latitude and along 12,000 miles of coast.
(2) To keep open its economic lifeline to seaward, Norway had to decide on an area of fleet concentration that would block the Russian threat.
Obviously, this area of concentration was in the north. For the Russian Bear, thirsting for ice-free waters, stands menacingly over Norway’s North Cape. And when the Bear stirs, the people in the north of Norway know about it. The threat is both apparent and real. The Soviet submarine force is presently considered to number about 450 boats with an impressive number of these being home-based with the Baltic and Northern Fleets.
Reorganizing to meet the Soviet threat meant that Norway had to shift its fleet, its operating bases, repair facilities and logistic support around from the traditional operating areas in the east and south to the strategically important west and north.
Norwegian naval headquarters, consisting of the Commander in Chief, his deputy, and the headquarters staff remained at the seat of government in Oslo. Two major operating commands were set up under the Commander in Chief to maintain operational control of the fleet and coastal artillery units: Commander, Coastal Fleet, and Commander, Naval Command, North—Naval Commands correspond, organizationally, to U. S. Naval Districts.
Resources of the five Naval Commands (districts)—North, South, East, West and Trffndelag (Central) were shifted so as to concentrate more men, material, and ships near the new operating areas. Whole bases like the major operating, supply, and repair complex located at Horten (Naval Command East) were moved around the coast to Bergen (Naval Command West). Many of the facilities and logistics functions earlier performed by the major operating supply and repair complex in Kristiansand (Naval Command South) were also shifted to the new operating, supply and overhaul complex at Bergen (Naval Command West).
New facilities were built in the north of Norway, and existing facilities there were strengthened. The motto among military planners in Norway became: “Think North.” Not only for the military, but for civilians too, the north of Norway came to take on added meaning. The State induced doctors, dentists, teachers, and other persons of special education and skills to serve at least one tour of duty there to strengthen the area. Some who have gone there have stayed on. Many see in it the element of a new frontier.
So the Norwegian nation has become increasingly northward-oriented—for good reason. Norway cannot forget its stake in the north; it cannot forget the long, hard years spent rebuilding the northern provinces which were razed by the ravages of war.
Rebuilding the ancient navy that faced the German invasion forces in 1940 was another matter. Due to economic considerations, improvements made during the postwar years preceding 1950 were necessarily gradual. They consisted mainly of acquiring miscellaneous used German, U.K., Canadian, and U. S. vessels on a piecemeal basis.
After 1949, when Norway joined NATO, the pace of improvement increased. The used vessels were modernized on a gradual but costly basis with Norwegian and Military Assistance Program (MAP) monies. Additionally, they were augmented periodically by deliveries of modernized vessels from the United States.
But these augmentations and modernizations proved in the long run to be inadequate. For one thing, lack of sufficient funds prevented any really thorough-going modernization like the U. S. Navy’s FRAM program. For another, it was an undeniable fact that the ships were old and no amount of modernizing could properly rejunvenate them. Furthermore, since they were acquired from a variety of sources, maintenance and upkeep on diverse and aging equipment was both difficult and expensive.
To alleviate these problems as well as to satisfy the basic military considerations of dispersal, economy and mobility, Norwegian and U. S. defense planners hit upon a bold new plan—perhaps the most revolutionary idea in the history of the Royal Norwegian Navy. (Certainly it has been one of the most significant developments under the U. S. Military Assistance Program.) It was the evolution of what has been called the Cost- Sharing Ship Construction Program. Under the terms of this program, the United States and Norway, in an exceptional country-to- country pact, agreed to share in the cost of building a new navy—a navy geared to meet Norway’s present-day needs.
The program is the result of over ten years of planning, consideration of alternatives, and maturation of defense concepts, on the part of both Norway and the United States.
Historically, the basis for the agreement dates back to 27 January 1950 when the Military Defense Advisory Program agreement was originally signed between Norway and the United States. This agreement was later supplemented by an exchange of notes signed in Oslo on 8 January 1952.
In 1960, there was an exchange of letters between the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the U. S. Department of State that laid down the broad guidelines for the letting of a costsharing shipbuilding contract.
U. S. participation in helping to finance such a plan was logical. For one thing, Norway’s shift of strategic emphasis northward made good sense to U. S. defense officials. So did Norway’s decision to build greater numbers of smaller, less expensive ships, capable of better defending its coastline.
The United States readily recognized that, in helping Norway to build ships for defense of its seacoast, it was essentially purchasing defense for the northern flank of NATO as well as for itself.
But the concept of an inshore navy was a long time in coming. During the years immediately following World War II, several alternate plans were considered. One plan called for a cruiser-destroyer navy having as its mainstay two cruiser-destroyer strike forces. The cruiser-destroyer concept was finally discarded in 1952 when the concept of the destroyer-centered navy took over.
Norway already had four C-class destroyers on hand. An offer of two Fletcher-class destroyers by the United States coupled with a proposal that an additional two Fletchers would be sent later under the Military Assistance Program whetted the appetites of the destroyer-minded. This would have led ultimately to a destroyer force of eight ships, and meant that the Norwegian Navy would have concentrated the bulk of its resources in terms of money and people in destroyers and destroyer-type operations.
This plan was abandoned in 1958 when exhaustive cost-effectiveness studies conducted by Sjoforsvarets Reguleringsradet (the Norwegian Navy Advisory Council) proved conclusively that Norway was not financially able to operate enough Fletchers to meet its far-flung coastal defense needs.
Thus the idea of the inshore navy was born calling for greater numbers of smaller ships, maximum dispersement, mobility and flexibility—all at minimum cost.
During the planning stage of the building program, closest liaison was maintained between officials of the top command echelons of both navies. Additionally, before implementation, most major proposals were staffed through the appropriate offices of NATO, SHAPE and AFNORTH (Allied Forces Northern Europe). A total money ceiling was first decided upon, and a fixed maximum price to be expended by the U. S. government was set at $58,601,400. This was based on 1960 estimated construction costs, and in essence, this amounted to a “maximum price” contract for construction of vessels to be built under the Military Assistance Program. Although originally conceived as a “cost sharing” program, the agreement stipulated that the Norwegians bear any unforeseen costs in excess of the maximum price.
Next, the types and numbers of ships were decided upon. The ship types were picked by the Commander in Chief Royal Norwegian Navy, based on recommendations made by a special naval staff appointed for that purpose. Finally, all recommendations were cleared by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) and Norwegian monies were appropriated.
The Cost-Sharing Construction Program was a broadly-based program resulting from many interfaces, i.e., Norway, the United States, the Norwegian Parliament, the U. S. State Department, NATO, SHAPE, Department of Defense, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense, the U. S. Navy, the Norwegian Navy, and their respective technical bureaus.
The contract, the specific agreement that actually binds both parties, was executed for 56 ships on 12 June 1961, effective from 31 May 1961. When it became obvious that because of unusually severe price increases in the ship construction program, Norway might be forced to sacrifice other defense programs, an agreement was reached on 22 March 1963 between the Norwegian Defense Minister and the U. S. Secretary of Defense that the total number of ships would be cut back from 56 to 50 with the understanding that Norway continue to pursue aggressively other areas of force improvement.
When completed, the new fleet will consist of 50 vessels in the following categories: destroyer escorts, patrol craft, motor gunboats, motor torpedo boats, and submarines. Considering that with national funds being expended in other areas such as fleet modernization, facilities improvement, and general overhauling of the naval structure, Norway will have, in about three years’ time, a highly modern, versatile naval force, capable of providing the northern flank of NATO with inshore coastal protection, thus freeing U. S. and U.K. ships for open-seas commitments.
Fjord operations are unique, and the ships that take part in them must also be unique. The northern fjords are cold, desolate, and extremely remote. Land communications, merely marginal in summer, are halted entirely by winter weather. Only the deep, winding fjords—warmed by the tempering influence of the Gulf Stream—remain open. Consequently, Norwegian naval forces fighting in the fjords have a dual task.
First, they must protect the vital north- south sea communications lifeline that feeds, clothes, and otherwise sustains the northern provinces, and, second, they must fend off amphibious attack. Both are big orders. Fortunately, the main north-south shipping route lies in semi-protected waters. It lies along an offshore line winding tortuously between the mainland and the fringing outer islands. Here is where Norway’s new fleet can work to great advantage, and the destroyer escorts and patrol craft will be called on to keep open Norway’s long north-south lifeline.
Norway’s new destroyer escort class is patterned after the U. S. Dealey class but with increased sheer. Structural details have been modified to utilize European plates and shapes. The first ship of the class, KNM Oslo, (F300), launched in January 1964, and is scheduled for delivery in January 1966. Her measurements are as follows: length over-all —317 feet; length between perpendiculars— 308 feet; displacement, full load—1,850 tons (long); breadth, molded—36 feet 8 inches.
The electrical system is 440-volt, 60-cycle, and is built to NATO standards. The Oslo has two 300-kw. turbo-generators and two 250-kw. diesel generators. All are ship’s service generators, and are so dispersed that a generator specifically designated as an emergency generator is not necessary.
The ship is equipped with an air search radar, and a combination surface search/ navigation/fire control radar. The hull- mounted sonar system consists of a scanning sonar and a searchlight-type fire control sonar mounted in a single dome.
The main machinery consists of 20,000 shaft horsepower (s.h.p.) on a single shaft; boilers are from Babcock and Wilcox, Ltd., England, and turbines are from De Laval Ljungstrom of Stockholm, Sweden. Armament consists of two 3-inch/50-caliber twin mounts, one Terne ASW rocket launcher, and two torpedo launchers. The ship is also configured for handling ASW-type helicopters. Her complement consists of 11 officers, 19 senior petty officers, and 120 ratings.
Besides the Oslo (F300), four vessels of this type are under construction at Marinens Hovedverft, Horten, Norway.
Launching dates and proposed names of the ships are listed below:
F301 KNM Bergen
15 August 1965
F302 KNM Trondheim
4 September 1964
F303 KNM Stavanger
15 March 1966
F304 KNM Narvik
8 January 1965
Two patrol craft are under construction at the Nylands Verksted division of Akers Mekaniske Verksted A/S Oslo, Norway.
The PCs are coastal convoy escort-ASVV types, with the same sonar and ASW suit, less helicopters, as the DE. Their length over-all is 227 feet 6 inches, and their displacement is 730 tons full load (metric).
The first vessel was launched in November 1963 and was delivered early in 1965.
Designed primarily for coastal antisubmarine operations, their armament consists of one 3-inch/50-caliber single mount, one Bofors 40-mm. L/70, one Terne ASW rocket launcher and two torpedo tubes. The vessels are equipped with twin screws and are propelled by four Maybach diesel motors of 2,250-h.p. each. The ships are entirely of Norwegian design. Each has a complement of 61 officers and men.
Off the coast of Norway there is a trench some 200 to 250 fathoms deep. These great depths coupled with ideal ice-free anchorages in the fjords provide good hiding places and good operating bases for submarines. It is here that Norway’s new deep-diving submarines will set up their first line of defense.
Fifteen new coastal-type submarines patterned after the 350-ton German U-1 class have been ordered from Rheinstahl Nordseewerke, Gmbh., Emden, Germany. All of these submarines will have reinforced hulls designed for deep diving.
There were several alternatives considered in selecting this submarine type. First, in order to obtain sufficient submarine protection and dispersal within the projected funds anticipated for the cost-sharing program, two choices were considered, i.e., a few larger, long-range, diesel-electric submarines, or more of the smaller, shorter-range submarines designed primarily for offshore operations. The latter was selected as being a better solution. It was then necessary to decide whether to design a new submarine or adapt an existing one to fit Royal Norwegian Navy needs. Inasmuch as the Norwegian submarine building capability was limited, the decision was made to go elsewhere. The U- 1 class then under construction in Germany fulfilled the requirements very well as to size, speed, range and several other capabilities. The final result is a considerably redesigned boat of the U-1 class, with dimensions as follows: length over-all—149 feet; submerged displacement— 482 tons (metric). Presently, six of the submarines have been delivered.
Jane's Fighting Ships cites projected armament for Norwegian submarines as being 21-inch tubes and machinery as being diesel- electric. The new submarines are to be given names perpetuating the names of submarines previously having served in the Norwegian Navy.
The sharply indented fjords have shores of jutting granite and provide ideal hiding places for the hit-and-run tactics of motor torpedo boats and motor gunboats. Norway has such boats in large numbers. Twenty motor torpedo boats (12 are to be carried over from the existing fleet), coupled with the 20 motor gunboats presently building, will provide 40 inshore anti-invasion-type vessels which, in addition to warding off an amphibious assault by the numerous small vessels and fishing boats that an aggressor might use in an invasion, also will have the capabilities of denying the aggressor the use of the fjords for concealment.
Eight Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) are to be delivered under the Fleet Construction Program. They are an improved version of the well-known “Nasty” type and are called the Tjeld class. Six boats have been delivered to the Royal Norwegian Navy under the Fleet Construction Program and are in operation. These motor torpedo boats are in addition to the 12 procured earlier by Norway, using national funds, and which were delivered during 1960, 1961, and 1962.
The MTBs are designed specifically as motor torpedo boats, and their armament consists of one 40-mm. Bofors l/70; one 20-mm. Bofors, and four torpedo tubes. Fourteen of this type have been delivered to the U. S. Navy as motor gunboats with one 40- mm. and two 20-mm. guns installed. The MTBs are 80 feet 4 inches long (over-all) with a beam of 24 feet 7 inches, and a maximum operating displacement of 80 to 85 long tons. Each has berthing for four officers, four petty officers, and 12 enlisted men. The boats are being constructed at Baat-service Verft A/S, Mandal, Norway. Their main machinery consists of two Napier Del tic T18-37K diesel engines producing 3,100 b.h.p. each, both located aft. Propellers are driven through Vee-drives located forward of the engines.
Russian fishing boats in large numbers frequent the waters contiguous to Norway. They have some of the most powerful and refined communications gear in the world. So sophisticated is this gear that they should be able literally to “talk” their catch aboard. The Soviets say their sole reason for being in these waters is fishing, but the Norwegians believe differently. As one Norwegian put it, Den må du langt på landet med—which, roughly translated, amounts to “Some fish story— tell it to the fish.”
Norwegians recall only too well how, in World War II, fishing boats were used by the Germans to land troops during the initial assault. They are well aware that 200 or 300 fishing boats loaded with troops instead of with torsk, the Norwegian word for cod, would provide an aggressor with a formidable first- wave landing force.
To cope with the Russian “fishing” fleet, Norway’s high speed motor gunboats (MGBs) provide a force which will be able to traverse and crisscross, in a defensive manner, large sections of the Norwegian coast, protecting it from possible invasion. KNM Storm is the prototype of a class of 20 119-foot Motor Gun Boats (MGBs). These boats are constructed of steel plates; the superstructure is of fiberglass in waffle construction. Whereas the MTBs have planing hulls, the Motor Gunboat has a displacement type hull: length over-all—119'9", displacement, light—92.50 tons (metric), and displacement, full load, approximately 125 tons (metric).
The Storm was delivered in 1963 and has undergone extensive evaluations. Subsequent to these evaluations and competitive bidding, a contract was awarded to Bergens Mekaniske Verksteder A/S of Bergen, Norway, for construction of the remaining 19 boats. Of these, six have been sub-contracted to Westermoen Hydrofoil A/S of Mandal, Norway. The vessels are scheduled for delivery during 1966 and 1967.
The armament consists of one 3-inch Bofors mount TAK-76 forward and one 40- mm. Bofors L/70 aft. Weight and space reservations have been provided for possible future installation of short-range, surface-to- surface guided missiles. The main machinery consists of two Maybach MD-872A engines, 3,600-b.h.p. each. Berthing is provided for four officers and 19 other enlisted men.
The MGB is designed specifically to produce a low silhouette. The forward gun is completely automatic from the time the ammunition is loaded in the hoist and is controlled by a fire control system which is a smaller version of the system in the DE.
To round out its new fleet, the Norwegian Navy will carry over from the existing fleet:
7 Coastal minesweepers (MSCs)
2 Ocean minesweepers (MSOs)
4 Fleet minesweepers (MMCs) (converted from U.S. 220-foot AM types)
1 MTB Tender (converted Canadian River- class frigate)
1 SS Tender (converted Canadian River- class frigate)
1 AVP-type (ex USS Gardiners Bay) and
12 MTBs (of Norwegian design, previously mentioned).
In guarding Norwegian territorial waters, the seagoing forces will be in constant contact with the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s naval reconnaissance aircraft. These modern, first- line, maritime surveillance aircraft are highly modernized versions of the Grumman Albatross. These airplanes were provided separately under the Military Assistance Program and are not part of the Cost-Sharing Shipbuilding Program. Finally, a well trained, fully integrated coastal artillery force will man the installations guarding vital harbor entrances and strategic channel narrows.
The best protection that can be afforded key naval facilities, as one might surmise, would be to place them in tunnels and caves blasted out of the solid rock. The Norwegians have done this. A number of such tunnels have been completed and ensure a high degree of survivability in the event of attack. Repair facilities, carved in the rock, stand ready to service Norwegian and other NATO ships. In addition to this, Norway’s long, winding, craggy coasts provide in themselves a considerable defense. Here the Norwegian Navy has an almost unique natural asset.
While great emphasis has been placed on getting the “new” fleet launched and operating, maintenance needs of the existing “transition navy” have not been neglected, and ships of the transition navy are being maintained in a high state of readiness. Because of this carefully planned phase-out of old vessels and replacement by new ones, Norway is able to operate, at any time, a well- trained, effective and highly capable fighting force—one that is daily increasing in strength.
For a country with so small a population and with such restricted economic resources, fielding an effective military force is no small task. Norway’s army of about 16,000 men and its air force of about 8,000 men are both small in comparison to their counterparts in the larger NATO countries. And its fleet of under 8,000 men and less than 100 ships is miniscule by comparison with the fleets of the great powers. Yet it is the fleet that will undoubtedly be Norway’s defensive mainstay in the event of amphibious invasion.
The new ships are good; they have fine seakeeping qualities; and they are well armed. Even the ships that will be brought forward from the old fleet to the new under the Fleet Plan of 1960 will be highly modernized and will match in quality and performance similar vessels of larger navies.
The demand for more and smaller ships to control the coasts effectively from Kirkenes to Halden was realistically made by Norwegian defense planners. The decision to become an inshore, coastal-defense navy makes sense—both from the national viewpoint and from the NATO point of view.
In the process of doing what comes naturally, Norwegian military planners are not only helping thwart a Soviet end run around the North Cape, and eventual seizure of their ports, but they are also in a position to help deter a fleet which could threaten all of NATO and, indeed, the whole Western community.
It has been said, and rightly, that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the profession of arms. Norway, despite its small size, its meager population and restricted resources, is making a truly unique and invaluable contribution to the security of the Free World.