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by Captain Henrik M. Petersen, Royal Danish Navy
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It is not generally realized that Denmark’s geographical center lies in the Western Hemisphere. The Kingdom of Denmark consists of three widely separated parts: Denmark proper, the Faeroe Islands, and the large island of Greenland. A line joining these three parts of the Kingdom would form a boundary between the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea—ocean areas that would be of the greatest importance in any confrontation between the world’s two greatest naval powers.
Of course, Denmark proper, with its nearly 5,000,000 people in a 17,000-square- mile area, is by far the most important part of the country. Although Greenland, the largest
570 square miles and are inhabited by 37,000 people. Since 1948, the islands have been a self-governing region of the Kingdom with their own flag.
Denmark was created at the great junction of the Northern Seas, more than 1,000 years ago, at a crossroads between North and South, East and West. By nature a maritime realm, it has always been dependent on sea lines of communication. For a long time it was Danish policy to control the bases, markets, and shore stations of the great trade routes. This drew the country into a struggle for control of the North Sea, the Skagerrak, and the Baltic. Denmark clashed with England, Germany, Norway, and Sweden in successive combinations, but was pushed back by Sweden in the end. During the seven centuries from 1000 to 1720, Denmark was at war for almost 325 years. She was at once a Baltic and an Atlantic power. From her key position at the outlets of the Baltic, she could fight from interior lines and readily concentrate her forces.
The strategic importance of the Baltic has waned considerably since the days when the British Navy was almost entirely dependent on the constant flow of supplies from the Baltic states and Russia. But the Baltic must still be considered an important sea. Even since the construction of the Kiel Canal, the natural exits of the Baltic—the Danish Straits—are still a key passage.
Watchful eyes are constantly directed towards this tiny kingdom. The Western seapowers have great commercial interests in the Baltic. The Federal German Republic, Norway, and Sweden, all consider Denmark to be a potentially dangerous flank. For East Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Finland—the interior Baltic powers—Denmark is simply the guardian of the Baltic, a strategic focal point from which the sea lines may be cut.
island in the world, has a total of 840,000 square miles, with an ice-free area of 132,000 square miles, the population is only 40,000 people, mostly of Eskimo origin. The island’s former colonial status was abolished in 1953, when it was integrated with Denmark. Home rule has been initiated. The Faeroe Islands, consisting of 19 small islands, have a total of
Denmark is an archipelago. The land frontier with Germany is only 42 miles in length, whereas the coastline is 4,600 miles long. Denmark is one of the most dissected land masses in Europe, consisting of the Jutland Peninsula, 99 inhabited islands, and 383 uninhabited islands. The country’s geography has undoubtedly helped to mold its destiny-
towns, access tain m| Of ^ark;
. Co duced : t^een t
Danish Motor Torpedo Boats patrol the Baltic Sea.
All Photographs Courtesy of Royal Danish Navy
°Penhagen and the eight largest provincial
from :ngthj Den- lasses ’enim unin- iy has :stinY'
w oouiiiLtejj tu e a.) iono vv o • liiciciiunt
7 nn’n commercial fishing, 5,000; shipyards,
for a !an<? NavY find a total of 44,000.
nriles of the coastline. More than half of Population lives in urban settlements;
°Wns, which all have fine harbors with easy ^Ccess to the important trade routes, now con- ln rn°re than two million people.
Df the 4.8 million people who live in Den- I.llar^, the following numbers are employed Occupations directly related to the sea:*
du ^°.rnParablc figures for the United States, re- tw e° ln ProP°rtion to the population difference be- rin 611 ^U"two countries, are as follows: merchant ma-
Navy (including civilian employees) 28,000,
The combination of soil and climate provides Denmark with very favorable conditions for agriculture. But there are no raw materials of note, and large imports are necessary to maintain a high level of agricultural and industrial production. All in all, the imports of goods and services in 1965 amounted to about 2.7 million dollars, while the total value of Danish production at the same time amounted to about 8.5 million dollars. Thus,
imports are about one-third of the total production. Few countries are so dependent on foreign trade, and the tendency to trade, involving the production of export goods, has always been a national characteristic of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Since the days of the Vikings, the sea has influenced the attitude of the Danish people. Through the ages every child has learned about the glorious traditions of the Navy, and the challenge from the sea has never gone unanswered. The Danes regard the sea as a friend, a source of food, the natural way to travel, a place for recreation, and a source of inspiration.
The people and their changing governments are well aware of the importance of the
sea for Denmark, for its trade and its defenses. Moreover, most Danish governments have shown great interest in the development of the Navy and the merchant fleet. The political decision to join NATO after more than 150 years of neutrality confirmed Denmark’s comprehension of sea power.
The Royal Danish Navy. In the preamble to the Defense Act of 1960, the object of Danish national defense is defined:
As a link in the combined NATO defense system, the individual country must command forces in all three services for immediate defense against any attack. Denmark’s geographical situation renders it particularly important that such defense forces should be available on Danish soil ready for instantaneous deployment against attempts of a swift attack on Denmark without warning in order that the forces of NATO may afford help in time.
In accordance with this objective, Denmark’s national forces are adapted to the NATO command structure. In 1962, a unified command of Danish and German forces was introduced in the Baltic region under the Commander Baltic Approaches, COMBALTAP. who commands German and Danish naval forces through COMNAVBALTAP.
The force goals in the Defense Act must be seen in this context, and not merely as isolated national forces.
According to the Defense Act the Naval Forces shall consist of: 8 major ships (DD- types), 18 torpedoboats, 6 submarines, 8 minelayers, 12 minesweepers, 9 patrol craft) and additional ships for special purposes.
Six of the eight major units are built, and the other two will be completed by 1972; 1<$ of 18 torpedoboats are built with the other two scheduled for completion by 1969; four of six submarines and seven of eight minelayers are completed, with the balance to be finished this year; and all minesweepers and patrol craft are completed.
It would have been difficult for Denmark) for economic and psychological reasons, to carry out a building program to attain these goals, but with the generous assistance of the United States, which participated in a 50-50 Cost Sharing Program (CSP) covering about 30 vessels, it has been possible to narrow the
SaP that existed in 1960 between the ships that were needed and the ships that were built.
The operational forces of the Navy are organized within the Naval Operational Command, the Faeroe Command, and the Green- and Command, the latter two being unified
Flag Officer Danish Operational Forces, commands five squadrons: the Frigate Squad- ron> the Torpedoboat Squadron, the Submarine Squadron, the Minelayer Squadron, and the Minesweeper Squadron.
The Frigate Squadron consists of two eder Skram-c\ass frigates, four Triton-class cor- vcttes, and nine Seaward Defense Craft of . Daphne class. The two frigates (2,000 tons) Wlth their four 5-inch, 38-caliber guns, modern fire control system, and high speed (30- Plns knots, CODAG propulsion) constitute a rnost welcome augmentation of the Navy’s combat power. They were ordered under the • S. Cost Sharing Program, were built at the Tsinore Shipbuilding and Engine Company r°rn 1962 to 1966, and will be fully opera- h.onal this year. Late in 1966, the Peder Shram Vlsited Norfolk and Washington, D. C.
The four 800-ton corvettes were built in taly for Denmark under the Military Assistance Program (MAP) in the mid-1950s. They ajje lightly armed with two 3-inch and two 'Cam. guns, have a maximum speed of 20 ttots, and are generally considered obsolete, though these are ASW ships, it should be Jcuiembered that the Western Baltic and the amsh Straits are generally unsuitable for u marine operations, as the depth only °ccasionally exceeds 20 fathoms. Thus, the jyartime mission of these ships would more 1 cly be defense against amphibious assault r covering minelaying operations. But these ttall ships would probably be ineffective CV<pn *n t^lese tasks.
ight of the nine Seaward Defense Craft of ue Daphne class were built from 1960 to 1964 Oder the CSP at the Naval Dockyard in ^°penhagen. These small ships (180 tons) are cellently suited for their main peacetime th , Wartimc task which is surveillance of ish rStem an<^ Central Baltic and the Dan- rtraits, in close co-operation with coastal a and ECM stations.
he waters within the immediate area of anish interests are very suitable for mining.
From a mine warfare point of view, Great Belt, the Sound, and the Western Baltic are of particular importance, and to carry out defensive mining in these areas the ships of the Minelayer Squadron would, of course, be the foremost agents. The core of the squadron consists of four large modern minelayers of the Falsler class (1,800 tons, 18 knots, four 3-inch guns), built under the CSP from 1961 to 1963. Two were built by Frederikshavn’s Dockyard Company and two by the Nak- skov shipyard. These ships can carry several hundred combination magnetic influence acoustic pressure mines of the most modern type, and are capable of executing wartime tasks on short notice. Complementing the four Falster class are the Langeland (300 tons)
and two Lougen-class (250 tons) minelayers, all of which are specially built for the laying of minefields that can be controlled by cables from shore stations.
An important element of the naval strike forces are the vessels of the Torpedoboat Squadron, made up of six Flyvejisken-c\as$, four Falken-class, and six Soloven-class boats. The six Soloven-class boats are powered with gas turbines and have a maximum speed of more than 50 knots, carrying four torpedoes. They are also armed with two 40-mm. guns. The remainder are conventional diesel- powered boats, with a maximum speed of more than 40 knots. All these boats, it should be noted, can lay mines.
To support these boats, a depot ship, the
Hjalperen (1,100 tons) and a mobile land base form part of the squadron.
The Submarine Squadron consists of four submarines of the Deljinen class (550 tons), built from 1956 to 1963, at the Naval Dockyard in Copenhagen. Their main armament is torpedoes, but they also can lay mines. Two more submarines of the Narhvalen class (350 tons) are being built at the Naval Dockyard. They are of German design, and are expected to enter the Fleet in 1968. All these submarines are specially constructed for operations in the Baltic and are capable of operating for weeks anywhere in this area. One submarine depot ship is available for floating support.
Undoubtedly, mine warfare will play a predominant role in any naval war in the Baltic area. It would be the job of the Minesweeper Squadron to resist enemy attempts to control Danish sea lanes with mines. Eight Sund-c\a& (350 tons), U. S.-built coastal minesweepers were delivered from 1954 to 1956 under the MAP, and four JT^-class (180 tons), inshore minesweepers were built at the Naval Dockyard in Copenhagen under the CSP in I960 and 1961.
During World War II, several thousand mines were laid in waters surrounding Denmark, causing hundreds of ship losses. Most of these mines were placed in the Kattegat, some in the Straits. Germany mined the west coast of Jutland in 1944 against the threat of an Allied invasion. During and after the war, minesweepers and mine countermeasures teams of the Danish Navy swept or rendered harmless more than 13,000 mines, and the minesweepers steamed more than 400,000 miles. Yet, some of the mines are still being discovered, mainly by fishermen.
Besides the combat ships in the five squadrons, several special purpose ships have been built for the Navy. Perhaps the most important of these are the four modern fishery protection ships of the FIvidbjornen class, mostly operating in waters around Greenland and the Faeroe Islands. They are nationally built and funded. They have helicopters and have proved extremely suitable for fishery patrol, surveying, and SAR operations.
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Naval c Reserve Engine, Engine,
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The Navy plans to have three-fourths of its ships in commission at all times; the remaining vessels could be put in commission in periods ranging from two days to two months-
four ons), )ock- rnent Two (350 ^ard- :cted .rines n the veeks lepot
i pre- ialtic neper introl -class epers r the shore Dock- 1960
Denost of some west eat of : war, tsures dered
d the '0,000 being
-s and ishery
5 of its
main- ion if
est naval academies in the world. Its Present strength is about 100 cadets. The ”aval officers and engineer officers specialize
The three main naval bases are in Copenhagen, Kors^er, and Frederikshavn. The coastal defenses of the Danish Navy are centered around two fortresses and a number of coastal radar stations, which for functional reasons are organized into five Naval Districts. The Naval Districts form the main elements of the Naval Surveillance System, which, in close co-operation with the Air °rce and the Defence Intelligence Agency, detects, identifies, tracks, and reports all targets of any importance as they are passing through the Straits.
The present Royal Danish Navy personnel strength amounts to the following:
^aval officers 350
Reserve officers 275
Engineer officers 110
Tginecr reserve officers 50
^uPply officers 60
radical officers 40
fficers, special branch (CPOs and WOs) 650
Total military 7,035
Civilian employees 3,000
Total military and civilian 10,035
,r^s a valuable adjunct to the Navy, the maritime Home Guard has 3,500 volunteers, 0 whom 800 are women.
Most of the naval line officers are graduates n the Royal Danish Naval Academy in °penhagen. Founded in 1701, it is one of the
during all three years at the Academy. The engineer officers man all the shipboard myginerooms. Extensive postgraduate educa- afforded, partly in Denmark and partly q r°ad, in the United States, England, (;[many, Norway, and France, the reserve officers are merchant marine cers who spend one year at a naval school owed by one year of naval service.
Th ^ minimum age for enlisted men is 17. e term of enlistment is either three or five ars' and about one-fourth of these
The conscripts must serve 14 months. Very few re-enlist, generally only when they have a chance for an officer’s career.
Although total strength in the Navy is sufficient to man ships and shore bases, there are critical deficiencies in some enlisted areas.
With the organization, forces, and people mentioned, it has been possible to establish a relatively high degree of combat readiness in the Navy. Flag Officer Danish Operational Forces, who controls the forces, is always close to his wartime headquarters, which is activated throughout the 24 hours of the day, and all forces earmarked for assignment to NATO are under his operational control. The assignment problem has thus been limited to the transfer of operational command to COMNAV-
BALTAP, without any major change of the organization below flag officer level.
The Navy spends considerable time conducting major exercises. All ships spend from three to four weeks each summer in national exercises; each spring the frigates, submarines, and minesweepers of the Danish, Norwegian, and West German navies exercise together; each fall Danish and German light forces exercise in the Baltic; and the Danish Navy participates in the annual NATO FALLEX. In particular, the Navy carries out very realistic minesweeping exercises. All these exercises are carefully observed by Soviet, East German, and Polish vessels.
The Danish Navy is small, but it is well balanced and maintains a reasonable degree
of readiness. Its most conspicuous weaknesses are the lack of modern, all-weather, powerful surface ships and the want of air support under naval control (the Danish Air Force is an independent service). In the case of a war in which NATO is involved, the Navy will cooperate to the fullest extent with the Federal German Navy, which then, to a certain degree, will offset these deficiencies.
The Merchant Navy. In December 1966, the Danish Merchant Navy amounted to 1,089 ships of more than 100 tons totalling 2,897,999 g.r.t., of which 101 were tankers of 1,065,000 g.r.t. More than half of the total number are ships between 100 and 499 g.r.t., but their share of the total tonnage is only 4.6 per cent.
Passenger ships account for 3.5 per cent, dry cargo ships for 53.5 per cent, and tankers for 37.7 per cent of the total tonnage. The remaining part consists of special ships, such as ferries and tugs.
Some 30 per cent of the total tonnage is less than four years old, and more than 70 per cent is less than nine years old; the Danish merchant fleet is one of the most modern in the world. In wartime it would be controlled by NATO.
The merchant fleet makes an important contribution to the Gross National Product (in 1965 about 180 million dollars or 2 per cent of the GNP).
Four shipping companies each own vessels totalling more than 100,000 g.r.t.:
A. P. M011er (Maersk Line)........................ 1,135,459
East Asiatic Company, Ltd. (0stasia-
tiske Kompagni)...................................... 314,246
J. Lauritzen...................................................... 209,612
United Steamship Company, Ltd.
(Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab A/S) 181,101
The Mjfller Company is not only the largest in Denmark, it is, in fact, bigger than any other Scandinavian shipping company.
The training of masters, mates, and radio operators comes under the Ministry of Trade and Shipping and is administered through the Directorate of Navigation. There are Schools of Navigation in Copenhagen and if four provincial towns, as well as special schools for masters in six provincial towns- There are also Government Seamen’s Schools in three provincial towns. There has in recent
years been a tendency for the big shipping companies to establish their own schools for their own seamen.
Besides several smaller ships, the two sailing ships Georg Stage and Danmark are still being used for the training of seamen in the merchant fleet. The Georg Stage belongs to the Georg Stage Memorial Foundation, and the P<inmark, well known from her wartime service ln the U. S. Coast Guard, is owned by the Danish government.
In 1965, the fishing fleet numbered about
8,0 vessels, varying in size from small inshore boats to ocean-going trawlers, most of them in the former category. Landing of fish and shellfish in 1965 by Danish fishermen totalled about 800,000 metric tons, and had a vahie of 85 million dollars, placing Denmark 13th among the fishing nations of the world, ahead of many larger countries. Danish fisheries are among the few European fisheries that are not government subsidized and whose Prices are not fixed.
More than two-thirds of the catch is obtained in the North Sea and the Skagerrak, and, in terms of quantity, herring and cod rank first and second. Plaice will normally Produce the largest revenue.
Seaborne trade. In 1965, the total import of goods amounted to 25 million tons, of which ■1-3 million tons, or 90 per cent, came by ship. About 25 per cent of these imports originated in Baltic ports (Soviet Union, Fin- and, Sweden, Poland, and East Germany); the rest came from the West. Of the total v°lurne of goods imported in 1965, about 45 Per cent consisted of liquid fuel—much of it 0l1 from the Middle East—and 20 per cent '''as solid fuel. Ships calling at Danish ports in 65 from abroad totalled 30,860, of 16 "nllion net register tonnage. At the same time exports totalled 8.3 million tons, of which million tons, or 60 per cent, went by ship. °nt 25 per cent went to Baltic ports.
^ he important point in these statistics is , e overwhelming dependence on trade with e.West, Eastern trade being only moderate.
. (s pattern will always be a deciding factor U* Deamark’s foreign policy.
Ihere are ten ports in Denmark having a Warly cargo turnover of more than one mil- °n tQns. By far the most important is Copenhagen, which is one of the largest ports in Northern Europe, and accounts for more than 7.5 million tons of discharged and 1.5 million tons of loaded cargo.
Shipbuilding. In most of the larger ports there are privately owned shipyards. For a long time there has been a close connection between Danish shipping and Danish shipbuilding. About 60 per cent of the Danish merchant tonnage has been built in Danish yards, most of the balance having been built in Norway, Sweden, and Germany. In 1965, ships were exported at a value of 80 million dollars, this being approximately one-half the total output of about 325,000 g.r.t. The current annual output has risen 125,000 tons
to a total of about 450,000 g.r.t.
Danish yards have the facilities for building the new, economical, very large bulk carriers. Several ships of 100,000 deadweight tons have been built, and the Odense Steel Shipyard now has facilities for building 200,000- ton vessels.
One of the world’s biggest producers of diesel engines is Burmeister & Wain in Copenhagen, exporting to or having licensing agreements with countries all over the world.
Foreign Policy. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Per Haekkerup, has summarized four main principles which underlie Danish foreign policy:
• Denmark supports to its utmost the development of the United Nations as an effective instrument of world power, ensuring peace and progress for all nations.
• Pending the achievement of this aim, Denmark must seek to safeguard its own peace and security through continued participation in Western defensive co-operation within NATO.
• In Europe, Denmark wishes to participate in a broad economic and political partnership, furthering internally the economic progress and co-operation of the nations of Europe and developing greater external possibilities of co-operation with the United States and other countries beyond the seas, strengthening the influence of Europe in favor of an easing of world tensions and enhancing Europe’s possibilities of an intensified contribution for the benefit of the developing countries.
• Finally, Scandinavian co-operation will always form an essential part of Danish foreign policy, and Denmark will continually work for the strengthening of the special ties which bind it to the rest of Scandinavia.
The execution of this foreign policy has had the following military consequences:
In supporting the United Nations, Denmark has expressly shown its willingness to place forces at the disposal of the organization in its peacekeeping operations, for example, in Gaza, the Congo, and Cyprus.
Denmark’s membership in NATO has led us to a build-up of our forces to a degree unmatched in our long history, and—most important—with the support of almost all political parties.
The Strategic Significance. Through the ages, both the Baltic powers and the great powers of Europe have shown their interest in the Danish area, including the Sound (Oresund) and the Belts.
Today seven sovereign states are directly concerned with the Baltic. These are: Sweden, Finland, the Soviet Union, Poland, the East German Democratic Republic, the West German Federal Republic, and Denmark.
For three of these, Finland, Poland, and East Germany, the Baltic is the only access to the world seas. Denmark and Germany are NATO members; the Soviet Union, Poland,
young maritime nation, the United States
and East Germany are members of the Warsaw Pact; and Sweden and Finland are neutral. A wide range of the world’s political spectrum is thus represented in these Baltic nations.
A steady stream of ships—naval and merchant—moves in and out of the Baltic, num- hering more than 100,000 a year, 60,000 through the Kiel Canal, 40,000 through the Danish Straits. Approximately 20,000 are dying a Soviet bloc flag and have a preference using the Straits. The important straits are the Great Belt and the Sound, the Little Belt being of minor interest as a transit route. The threat Belt is mainly used by larger ships up to a draft of about 45 feet. The Sound is used by ships with a draft up to about 26 feet.
The number of Soviet bloc ships close to Evanish shores averages 65 at any time, of ^'hich about ten will be in Danish ports. Also, °viet bloc naval ships are frequently observed in the Straits. The yearly number is r°m 100 to 150, ranging from cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and patrol craft, down to various auxiliaries. These warship passages are entirely in consonance with international aw> as it is generally recognized that these Waters are “International Straits.” Furthermore, by the Sound Treaty of 1857, Denmark 's bound never to hinder international traffic through the Straits in time of peace.
The background for this treaty is that from hme immemorial Denmark claimed full sovereignty over the Sound and the Belts, and 1 is Was reflected by the Sound dues, a toll hich all merchant ships passing through the (°Und had to pay to the Danish Kings. Even ter Denmark ceded the eastern coast of the °und to Sweden in 1658, she claimed that it ^as only the territory which was ceded, that e Sound was still Danish territory. (Today ,4Veden and Denmark share control of the °und, and there is a territorial boundary be- tveen the two states in the middle of the oound.)
io the long run these claims were not valid, contrary as they were to modern international ^avv> and in the first half of the 19 th century,
, nS and difficult negotiations with some of e seafaring nations began. But it seemed |.try difficult to reach an agreement on the fluidation of the toll. It is not surprising that
of America, without any respect for the historical traditions involved (the Sound toll went back to a most barbaric time, before the discovery of America), initiated the abolition of the toll. In 1843, the American Secretary of State, Abel P. Upshur, declared that the Danish claims and demands were unlawful and could not be justified. The United States seemed determined to enforce her refusal to pay by convoying her merchant ships through the Sound by warships. Before this plan could be executed, Upshur died, and the risk of war between the United States and Denmark disappeared. But the problem remained, and in 1853, the United States declared the toll to be abolished without compensation. Then, in 1855, the Danish-American Trade and Ship-
ping Agreement of 1826 was abrogated with one year’s notice. The Danish government employed this respite by inviting all interested nations to participate in a Sound Dues Conference in Copenhagen. After lengthy and sometimes difficult negotiations, an international convention was finally agreed upon and signed by all European seafaring nations.
The obligations placed on Denmark according to the Sound Treaty are:
• No ship must be stopped or arrested on its passage through the Sound and the Belts.
• No duties must be charged.
• The lights and buoyage in the Kattegat, the Sound, and the Belts should be maintained.
• Compulsory pilotage must never be used.
• Foreign private companies should have the right to station towboats in the Sound.
Strict as they seem, these obligations only served to bring the Danish Straits into the same position as other international straits. Furthermore, Denmark received as compensation from the sea powers 35 million Rigs- daler (rix-dollar), then worth about 17.5 million U. S. dollars. Only the United States, which was not a signatory to the treaty, did not want to participate in the payment of compensations. The United States did, however, sign a bilateral agreement with Denmark, and paid a sum of money in recognition of the fact Denmark had to maintain lights and buoys in the Straits.
In accordance with the Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, 1958, the Danish government has recently (December, 1966) by a Royal Decree defined the outer and inner limits of the territorial sea, making extensive use of baselines and fixing the breadth of the territorial sea to three nautical miles. This has in no way affected the traditional right of passage of foreign ships—including warships making innocent passage—in time of peace through the Straits.
It is interesting to note that during World War I, Denmark, a neutral, closed the Straits by mining at the insistence of Germany. Denmark felt that if it did not mine the Straits, Germany would, and naturally it preferred to know where the mines were. The Allies accepted this rationale.
A graduate of the Royal Danish Naval Academy in 1943, Captain Petersen commanded a minesweeper in 1945—1946. Subsequent assignments include duty on the Naval Staff and the Defense Staff in Copenhagen; executive officer in Fishery Protection Ships off Greenland and the Faeroe Islands; and command of Minelayer Division One (1962-1963). He was a student at the U. S. Naval War College (1965) prior to reporting to his present assignment as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Training and Readiness with Flag Officer, Danish Operational Forces, Arhus, Jutland.
In assessing the total strategic value of Danish territory, it is worth recalling that Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are situated in areas where maritime operations would dominate in wartime. These areas are strategically significant, above all, due to their inherent possibilities for giving warning. The United States has bases in Greenland, and their status is regulated within the framework of NATO.
Concerning Denmark proper, the starting point for an assessment might be the probable Soviet course of action in a general war, centered around its desire to thwart a nuclear threat from NATO, to isolate Europe from the United States, and to neutralize NATO forces on the European continent. The Soviet Union would try to force its way into the Atlantic with its maritime forces and advance on Western Europe with its armies. At the same time, the Soviet Union would attach great importance to air defense against NATO strikes.
Therefore it seems evident that the Soviets would have the following motives for occupy' ing Danish territory;
• Soviet submarines and missile destroyers in the Baltic, if able to pass through the Danish Straits, could interdict ships transporting war materials between the United States and Europe and attack allied strike fleets and Polaris submarines. At the same time, the Baltic bases and industrial areas would be available for logistic back-up.
• Danish territory could be used as a base for attacks on, and eventually occupation of, southern Norway, thus further improving the
^ Maritime Strategy. As noted above, the anish dependence on overseas import from he West is overwhelming, and in case of war 0r threat of war, it will be of vital importance to safeguard the incoming tonnage. It will be equally important to maintain control of the 1 °und, the Belts, and the Kattegat in order to secure the sea lanes between Jutland and the elands, and in order to cover essential parts °f Danish territory against enemy amphibious and airborne attacks. Danish strategy, there- ore, is maritime in principle, although it depends on ground and air as well as on naval mrces.
Soviet possibilities for maritime warfare in the North Sea and North Atlantic.
• If Danish territory were not occupied, it could serve as a springboard for operations against the Soviet Union, the northern flank of Soviet forces in Germany and Poland, Soviet naval forces in the Baltic, and Soviet sea lines of communication in the Baltic.
It is obvious that Danish air, sea, and land territory would be of paramount importance or the security of the Soviet Union in wartime and for Soviet operations in Germany, Tandinavia, the North Sea and the Atlantic. c°r exactly the counterpart reasons, it is crucial for NATO to maintain supremacy over this area.
The strategy is centered on the establishment of zones of maritime control. Present hiking is that these zones would be maintained by air, surface, and subsurface (mine) arriers at the southern entrances to the raits. As soon as these barriers have been established, Danish, allied, and neutral com- b'etcial anc^ military seaborne traffic would e able to pass in reasonable safety. This strategy, if carried out successfully, would also eny the enemy the use of the same waters and Would, in fact, block up his ships in the confined waters of the Baltic.
t can hardly be overstressed, however,
that the degree of success for such a plan is highly dependent on a timely decision by Danish political leaders, which, due to the special factors involved, will always be difficult to make. And, given such a timely decision, success would still depend on the quick co-operation of West German naval and air forces.
If the enemy decided to leave the islands alone and force his way up through Jutland, a course of action which through the centuries has been followed by almost all enemies of Denmark, such an operation would give him base facilities, but not control of the Straits, for which objective he would have to command the islands.
The Danish maritime strategy, of course, is fully integrated into North European strategic plans, but is no innovation born of NATO. This has, in principle, been Danish national strategy for centuries.
Conclusion. In the more than 20 years since World War II, there has been a steady build-up of Danish defense forces, made possible only by the indirect and direct help received from the United States and Canada. When, in a few years time, the Danish Navy has reached its planned force goals, we will have a small but quite modern and well balanced fleet, with supporting coastal defenses, .maritime home guard, and logistic back-up. Seen as an isolated entity, this Navy has no great military value, but seen as an element of the NATO system, it makes good sense. Some of the material sophistication now lacking in the Danish Navy may be compensated for by the vision, vigilance, and courage of its leadership and the skill and dedication of its officers and men.
The control of the Danish Straits in war and in peace is a priceless asset, not only for the security of Denmark, but also for NATO as a whole. To that end, therefore, may we always carry high the Trident.