The prototype of a new Norwegian Navy venture into rigid-sidewall air-cushion vehicle technology, the guided-missile patrol craft Skjold (Shield) was commissioned on 17 April 1999. The 260-ton (full load displacement), 153.5-root Skjold achieved an impressive 57.1 knots on trials and recently averaged 44 knots in state 3 seas on a crossing of the North Sea. Capable of operating in waters as shallow as 1 meter, the craft has an endurance of 14 days and a crew of 15. The Skjold is intended to carry the developmental Kongsberg-Aerospatiale NSM (Nytt Sjomalmissel—New Antiship Missile) when it enters production in 2004. The imaging infrared-guidance, high-subsonic turbojet-propelled NSM is to have a range in excess of 100 km and a 120.kg warhead. Visible on the foredeck is the prototype stealth mounting for the familiar OTOBreda 76turn Super Rapid dual-purpose gun; the mount was returned to the manufacturer in Italy in October for installation on an Italian Navy corvette.
By A.D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World