The homebase of the Norwegian submarines is Haakonsvern in Bergen. Photo from Wikipedia.
Cooperation and distribution of tasks within NATO is excellent, but Norway will not abandon having its own submarine fleet because of the vast sea areas and the proximity to Russia, says Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide.
‘Smart defense’ – the concept that not all allies need to have all possible military capacities – is one of the main issues on the NATO top meeting in Chicago.
Pooling and sharing capabilities is smart and reasonable, but Norway will not give up having its own fleet of submarines, Eide says:
“I don’t think Norway will ever be without its own submarines, because we have such large sea areas and Russia as a neighbor”, he says to Aftenposten.
The former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe has suggested that the countries around the North Sea should combine their submarines in one fleet. Defense Minister Eide thinks this is reasonable, but that Norway will need to have its own submarine fleet anyway.
“We have two million square kilometers of sea to monitor outside the North Sea”.
Norway has six submarines of the Ula-class. They were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are now undergoing modernization which will make them operational to 2020.
What will happen after 2020 is up to the politicians to decide. To replace the Norwegian Navy’s submarines with new ones is estimated to cost NOK 20-25 billion (€2.6-3.2 billion).
The Ula-class submarines are among the most silent and maneuverable submarines in the world. This, in combination with the relatively small size, makes them difficult to detect from surface vessels and ideal for operations in coastal areas.