According to the Russian Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT), the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) has already ordered a new vessel for collection of intelligence in the High North. This information has not yet been confirmed by Norwegian media.
According to CAWAT, Head of NIS Lieutenant General Kjell Grandhagen told Jane’s Navy International that the price of the new vessel will amount to NOK 1.2 billion (€148 million). Other details about the project are not yet known.
The budget allocation to the Intelligence service has increased with 35 percent from 2005 till today, from NOK 690 million (€86 million) to NOK 930 million (€116 million), Aftenposten reported.
NIS’ current research vessel “F/S Marjata” was built in Norway in 1993 and taken into service in 1995. The vessel has been operating in the Barents Sea close to the border of Russia ever since. The vessel’s main base is in Kirkenes.
Although the Norwegian military intelligence today is characterized by more active espionage in war-zones where Norwegian soldiers are involved, the activity in the north is still of high priority.
F/S Marjata’s main task is to keep track of the Russian armed forces’ activities in the Arctic, but some sources also believe it to be part of the American ballistic missile early warning system, CAWAT writes.
The research vessel is a familiar sight for the Russian navy mariners, who have given it pet names like Mashka and Marusya, according to the blogger MuRena.