Written by Captain M. Smolov; Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review 2020 #12, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
The Kingdom of Denmark is a northern European state that occupies an important geostrategic position in the maritime communications system of the Northern European region. Geographically, the country includes most of the Jutland Peninsula with adjacent islands, the Danish Archipelago (Zeeland, Funen, Lolland, Falster and others), Bornholm Island, as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland (autonomous regions). There are about 500 islands in total. The total length of the coastline is up to 7,300 km.
The geographical location of the kingdom, the presence of two autonomous regions (Greenland and the Faroe Islands), as well as the country’s membership in the Arctic Council determine the priority of the development of the maritime passenger, transport, fishing and military fleets.
Denmark’s maritime transport accounts for 50% of domestic and about 80% of external cargo traffic. It has regular sea cargo and passenger services to the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the countries of the Baltic region.
The national naval forces are assigned a special role in solving the tasks of protecting national sovereignty and economic interests – a separate type of the Danish Armed Forces.
In peacetime, the Navy has the following tasks:
- control over the observance of the regime of territorial waters, economic and fishing zones of the state;
- protection of maritime borders;
- participation in crisis management operations as part of the multinational formations;
- support rescue services in accidents and disasters in coastal waters;
- insuring environmental control in the territorial waters, economic and fishing zones of the country.
When transiting from peacetime to wartime, the Navy ships will be deployed as part of the coalition formations that blockade the Baltic Straits zone, the reception and transit of allied forces, protect maritime communications in their area of responsibility, as well as organise coastal defence together with the ground forces.
The leadership of the Danish Navy is carried out by the commander (since 2019, Rear Admiral Torben Mikkelsen) through the headquarters. Organisationally, they include a headquarters and three squadrons of hybrid forces. In addition, a number of military educational institutions are under the operational command of the commander. The total number of personnel is about 3.6 thousand military personnel and civilian specialists.
The Naval Headquarters (Aarhus) is responsible for the combat and mobilisation readiness of subordinate units and subunits, training and combat activities, maintenance of weapons and military equipment in combat condition, logistical support for formations, operational management of forces and means in peacetime, threatened period and wartime, as well as for the allocation of ships and personnel to participate in international operations.
Most of these tasks are carried out in close cooperation with the authorities and other law enforcement agencies of the country, including the police, the maritime administration, the Maritime Security Service, the Emergency Management Agency, the Danish Meteorological Institute and the Tax Service.
In peacetime, three naval bases – Copenhagen (main), Frederikshavn and Korsør, as well as the Rønne base – are used for the deployment of fleet forces. If necessary, more than 50 civilian ports can be used by the Navy.
Copenhagen – the main port, naval base and capital of Denmark. It is located mostly on the island of Zeeland, smaller part on the island of Amager, on the western shore of the Strait of Oresund (Sund). It does not freeze and is not subject to tidal currents. It includes 4 harbours, 2 container handling terminals and 19 berths. The length of the berthing front of the naval base and the port of Copenhagen is more than 30 km with depths from 2.5 to 12.5 m. Large-capacity vessels are handled in the free zone basin. The inner harbour is designed for medium-sized vessels. Here, on the islands of Nyholm, Frederiskholm and Arsenaløen, are the main facilities of the Navy, capable of receiving ships up to and including cruisers. About 50% of the national Navy is permanently based there.
Frederiskhavn – naval base and the Danish port in the north-east of the Jutland Peninsula. The port includes several harbours with a depth of 4-8 m, northern and southern roads.
It is accessed through two fairways that are 8 m deep. The naval base is located southwest of the port. The length of the mooring front of the base is 2.4 km with a depth of up to 8 m. It provides permanent basing for about 20% of the national naval ships, and is frequently used by the NATO Navy.
The port of Frederikshavn has a total maritime cargo turnover of 1.1 million tons. Shipbuilding and ship repair facilities with four dry and floating docks and boathouses, carry out repairs on ships and vessels up to and including cruisers.
Korsør – Danish naval base and commercial port on the south-west coast of the island of Zeeland in the middle part of the Strait of B. Belt. The port is protected from the sea by two breakwaters between which there is a passage 140 m wide and 8 m deep in the fairway.
The naval base and port are available for ships and vessels with a draft of up to 7.5 m. The length of the mooring front is about 4 km with depths of 5.5-8 m. In winter, the strait and port freeze and navigation is maintained by icebreakers.
The port of Korsør has a total maritime cargo turnover of 0.5 million tons. The Navy can base ships up to and including frigates. Part of the national naval forces is permanently stationed here. There are military warehouses, oil storage facilities and an elevator. Shipbuilding and ship repair companies build and repair medium-sized vessels and ships. The port of Korsør is connected by rail ferry to Nyborg (Funen Island).
Rønne is a naval base and a Danish port on the west coast of Bornholm Island (Baltic Sea). From the south-west, a fairway with a width of 80 m and a depth of 9 m leads here. The port area is more than 1 km2, the length of the mooring front is 1.8 km with a depth of up to 8 m. It can host ships up to and including frigates. Rønne can accommodate vessels up to 135 m long with a draft of up to 6.9 m. It serves mainly coastal cargo and passenger traffic, and is connected by ferry to the ports of Copenhagen, Helsinki (Finland), Ystad (Sweden) and Travemünde (Germany). The port of Rønne has a total maritime cargo turnover of 1.1 million tons, the number of ship calls per year is more than 1,100.
The port is equipped with five cranes, has warehouses, open areas, liquid fuel storage, an elevator and a refrigerator. In Rønne there is a small shipyard for the construction of wooden ships with a displacement of up to 80 tons, as well as for the repair of ships (up to 350 tons). The port is equipped with navigation facilities that allow for the entry and exit of ships from the port at any time of the day and year in any visibility. The Rønne airfield is located six kilometres to the south-east of it, which has a runway measuring 2,000 x 45 m.
The country’s naval forces are armed with more than 20 warships (frigates, patrol ships and minesweepers), up to 50 combat boats and about 20 auxiliary vessels.
The 1st Squadron of the Hybrid Forces (Naval Base Frederikshavn) is responsible for the protection of the state’s maritime borders, the control of fisheries and the safety of navigation in Danish territorial waters, the exclusive economic zone, the Baltic Strait and the North Atlantic, including the waters of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
The squadron includes the headquarters, the 11th and 19th divisions of the fishing protection ships. There are four frigates (“Tethys” class), three patrol ships (“Knud Rasmussen” class) and six patrol boats (“Diana” class) in service.
To perform tasks in the North Atlantic, the squadron allocates a frigate, a patrol ship and up to four patrol boats to the Arctic command.
A typical patrol outing lasts two weeks. Scheduled and preventive maintenance and repairs are carried out at the Korsør naval base.
Ground control points are actively involved in the coverage of the marine environment in the area of the Baltic Straits, which includes surveillance centres and control.
The tasks of ensuring the international activities of the Navy are assigned to the 2nd Squadron of Hybrid Forces (naval base Korsør). The squadron includes a headquarters and three divisions (the 21st frigates, the 22nd headquarters ships, as well as minesweeper forces).
The combat composition of the 2nd Squadron includes three guided missile frigates of the “Iver Huitfeldt” class and two frigates of the “Absalon” class.
As part of the reform of the Danish Navy in 2019, a new unit was created – the 3rd Hybrid Force Squadron, which is responsible for monitoring the maritime situation, search and rescue at sea, as well as performing other auxiliary tasks in national territorial waters. It consists of a headquarters and four divisions (the 13th patrol boats, the 14th training, the 16th environmental protection and the 17th rescue vessels).
Auxiliary and training vessels, as well as boats of various classes, are in service.
All Danish naval squadrons ensure that subordinate forces are prepared for peacetime and wartime tasks, and are also responsible for initial maritime training.
The recruitment of personnel of this type of armed forces is carried out both on the basis of universal military duty and under contract.
Operational and combat training (OCT) of the Danish Navy is aimed at improving the coherence of management bodies, units and divisions, improving the professional skills of naval personnel, taking into account modern challenges and threats. The OCT is carried out on the basis of the Naval School (naval base Frederikshavn), which is administratively part of the Armed Forces Defence Academy.
The Naval School is considered the successor to the Naval Officers Course, which was founded in 1701 and is the oldest of its kind in the world. The training includes theoretical training of specialists and mandatory consolidation of the acquired knowledge through practice on ships.
The Naval Tactics Centre provides training and preparation for all categories of fleet personnel for combat use. At the same time, a significant part of the tasks is performed in the simulation process, for which there are a number of special simulators (tactical, control systems, communications and navigation, sea rescue, and others).
The Centre for Naval Technology (CNT) is responsible for the military-technical and naval training of naval specialists. Practical questions are worked out in the training centre and in the squadrons of hybrid forces.
In addition, the CNT develops draft directives, guidelines and requirements in these areas, as well as participates in the creation of specialised simulators.
The Centre for Maritime Education and Ship Safety instills basic ship navigation skills in the personnel, as well as provides additional training for military personnel for the operation of new ships.
The Weapons Centre plans, organises, improvements and supervises training in the handling of artillery, missile, underwater weapons and mine clearance systems, as well as supervises the marine ordnance disposal service. It is also responsible for the development of directives, guidelines and manuals on the use of naval weapons, as well as for conducting inspections in naval formations and units.
The Diving Training Service is a specialised formation that trains specialists in diving operations for units of the armed forces and civil departments.
The main areas of development of the Navy are the modernisation of existing weapons, ship composition, increasing its intelligence capabilities and reducing visibility, as well as further improvement of the organisational and staff structure of the fleet.
It follows from the above that the leadership of the country and the armed forces attached great importance to the national Navy and considers its further development the most important, taking into account the tasks of protecting the so-called northern flank of NATO and defending national interests in the Arctic. Thus, special attention is paid to updating the ship’s composition, increasing its firepower, as well as optimising the organisational and staff structure of the fleet.
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