Rear Admiral Frank Trojahn
Following a quite extensive transformation from a brown-water navy to a more oceangoing force, the Royal Danish Navy today is predominantly frigate-based in a high-low mix, with five 6,000-ton-plus high-end frigates/littoral combat ships and seven lower-end patrol frigates/offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). For each of these classes, the vessels are state-of-the-art, and soon our aging Lynx helicopter fleet will be replaced by nine MH-60R Seahawks. We also have a range of ships and systems optimized for the littorals, including our modular mine-countermeasures system with remotely piloted vehicles able to be operated from ashore or any ship capable of hosting the containerized command-and-control system.
The high-low frigate mix reflects two of the main mission areas of the navy. The high-end frigates/littoral combat ships are focused on international missions, and they have been heavily engaged in operations from counter-piracy off the Horn of Africa to the removal of chemical agents from Syria, where they took a leading role. The operational tempo is likely to remain high, and we are ready to fulfill our part advancing peace and security around the world. We are ready to share responsibilities and risks, and we are also committed to the international counter-piracy efforts off Africa.
Nobody can foresee what this complex, dynamic, and unpredictable security environment might bring, so we must be effective, agile, and flexible to be prepared and equipped for future challenges. We need to further enhance the combat capability and diverse skills of our frigate force. We will achieve this first by conducting extensive exercises and taking our sailors through Flag Officer Sea Training in the United Kingdom and the Naval Damage Control Training Centre in Neustadt, Germany. This will be followed by deployments, for example with the Joint Expeditionary Force and with a U.S. carrier strike group, along with the necessary improvements in weapon and sensor fit, depending on need and means. As a part of this, in the coming years we will implement a ballistic-missile defense sensor for the Iver Huitfeldt–class frigates, following the Danish government’s decision to participate in NATO ballistic-missile defense. Finally, we are of course keeping a close eye on what is happening in Ukraine. It is of great concern, but it is too early to say what the exact consequences might be for our future force structure and to what extent it will lead to a renewed focus on naval presence in the Baltic.
The lower-end patrol frigates/OPVs are focused on operations in the Arctic. The Kingdom of Denmark includes Denmark, Greenland, and the Faeroe Islands, making us a small European country but—as one of five nations bordering the Polar Sea—quite a significant Arctic state. As such, we are very concerned and affected by climate change. The receding ice cap might give way for numerous activities in this part of the world, and the consequences of climate change are already beginning to emerge. This will necessitate increased presence, maritime-safety regulation, mapping of unchartered waters, search-and-rescue capabilities, and environmental protection to ensure that the fragile environment in the Arctic is safeguarded and preserved. We will need partnerships and close cooperation, as none of us can handle this alone. The only way to meet the challenges is through cooperation.
The Royal Danish Navy continues to be an important part of an active foreign and security policy, as we have played an important part in the security and protection of our interests for the last five centuries. We will continue to do so.