Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad—Royal Swedish Navy
The last decade has been challenging for the Royal Swedish Navy. We have been building new corvettes of the Visby class, upgrading our submarines and mine-countermeasures vessels, and continued to develop our amphibious corps. The navy has also broadened its range of tasks from being mostly national-centric within the Baltic and off the west coast of Sweden, to include participation in joint international operations on the oceans. In December 2009 two of the new Visby-class corvettes—the HSwMS Härnäsand and HSwMS Helsingborg—were delivered to the navy.
Blue-water operations during the last decade have seen the Royal Swedish Navy exercising in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, and on the West Coast of the United States. We have also participated in international operations such as UNIFIL off Lebanon with two Gothenburg-class corvettes in 2006-07. The amphibious battalion has been internationally engaged, with a company taking part in operations in Chad in 2008.
Although the financial situation during the last few years has been struck by the global economic downturn, the Swedish government's long-term ambition to strengthen the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy has brought forward a positive response to a request for contribution to the European Union's Operation Atalanta. This, in support of the World Food Program, also combats piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The Royal Swedish Navy's 2009 contribution to the operation was two corvettes and a support ship over four months.
For the coming year, the Royal Swedish Navy has been tasked by the Swedish government to continue its contributions to the operation. We have also been asked to take on the leadership of EUNAVFOR, the European task force within the operation, for four months. For this purpose HSwMS Carlskrona, a former ocean-going minelayer and cadet training ship, has this winter been rebuilt as an ocean patrol vessel and will be deployed as the force commander's flagship, hosting the force headquarters.
The Carlskrona will carry one helicopter, an embarked military force (for boarding and interrogation purposes), and a medical unit with surgical capabilities. The planned duration is four months, from mid-April to mid-August, with an option of two more months during the fall.
Our overall maritime strategy, developing existing systems, and opening up for more international engagement to enhance our interoperability and share burdens, has not been hampered by the international economic downturn. The Royal Swedish Navy has been and will continue to play an active part in the Swedish government's ambition to strengthen the common security of the European Union.
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