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Johnny E. Balsved


OLFERT FISHER on long-distance assignment:

The Danish corvette in a historic NATO patrol around the Cape

On July 21 the corvette departs Korsør for a 3-month attachment to NATO's standing naval force, SNMG 1.

The corvette OLFERT FISCHER is once again ready for a long distance sssignment

The corvette OLFERT FISCHER is once again ready for a long-distance sssignment.
(Photo: Royal Danish Navy)

By Johnny E. Balsved

On July 21 the corvette OLFERT FISCHER departs Korsør to join NATO's standing naval force, SNMG 1, or "Standing NATO Maritime Group One" at Rota on the South west coat of Spain.

In August and September the force will conduct an historic 12,500 nautical mile patrol past the Cape. That's equivalent to approx. 23,150 km, or halfway round the world at the Equator.

It'll be the first time that a NATO naval force has operated in those waters.

Anti-piracy mission

The purpose of the patrol around the southern tip of Africa is, among other things, to obtain an overview of the threats and challenges in the Southern Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

Drug smuggling, illegal immigration, piracy and attacks on oil platforms have increased greatly in the last few years, especially in the Gulf of Guinea and the around the Horn of Africa.

For example, the Danish ship DANICA WHITE is currently under the control of pirates in waters off Somalia, but there is no suggestion SNMG 1 has been assigned any mission in connection with the incident.

"The security of the oil supply in the Gulf of Guinea and piracy off the Horn of Africa are matters that concern most NATO countries", says the officer commanding SNMG 1, American Rear Admiral Michael K Mahon.

Visit to Cape Town

On August 4 the force will sail the first leg from Gibraltar to the Gulf of Guinea, where naval exercises will be carried out to demonstrate NATO's ability to operate outside its normal waters.

Thereafter SNMG 1 will continue to South Africa, where there will be time for several days' visit in Cape Town and exercises with units of the South African navy.

Commanding Officer, Rear Admiral Michael K. Mahon

Commanding Officer
Rear admiral
Michael K. Mahon.

(Photo: NATO)

Thereafter the flotilla heads for the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, where a visit is also planned. Subsequently the coast off Somalia and the area around the Horn of Africa will be patrolled.

After completing exercise in the Red Sea, the naval force will continue through the Suez Canal back into the Mediterranean.

Hard-hitting force

The multi-national naval force comprises a cruiser, four frigates and a tanker from six NATO countries. In addition to the Danish corvette, naval vessels from the USA, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany and Portugal will participate.

The USA is represented by the flagship, the guided missile cruiser USS NORMANDY, from which the officer commanding the naval force will lead the force round Africa.

On the passage from Cape Town to the Seychelles it' expected that the USS NORMANDY will be replaced as flagship by the US missile destroyer USS BAINBRIDGE.

The American AEGIS missile cruiser USS NORMANDY is the flotilla' flagship.

The American AEGIS missile cruiser USS NORMANDY is the flotilla' flagship.
(Photo: NATO)

One of the Netherlands' newest vessels, HNLMS EVERTSEN will participate, while Canada and Portugal are providing the frigates HMCS TORONTO and NRP ALVARAS CABRAL.

Germany is represented by the naval tanker FGS SPESSART, which, amongst other things, is to provide fuel and supplies to the ships during the long patrol.

Unofficial records

The patrol will conclude when the naval force passes through the Suez Canal around October 1, after which the corvette OLFERT FISCHER will head for Souda Bay on Crete, where it will leave SNMG 1.

That's expected no later than October 12, after which the corvette will commence its journey back to Korsør, where she's expected to return on October 21, after almost 3 months at sea.

Incidentally, the passage through the Suez Canal will be OLFERT FISCHER's fifth through the canal, which is an unofficial record for a Danish naval vessel.

The first two passages were in connection with the First Gulf War 1990/91, and the third and fourth in connection with the Second Gulf War in 2003, to which the corvette was also deployed.

Similarly, it will be the first Danish corvette in modern times to cross the Equator, expected to take place in early August. It will also be the first time that a Niels Juel class corvette has been at sea for over 30 days without entering port.

OLFERT FISCHER is to be replaced by her sister ship PETER TORDENSKIOLD, which leaves Korsør on September 29 to join the SNMG 1 force in Souda Bay and will constitute part in the naval force until December 16, after which she too will return to Denmark.


(Photo: Karsten Petersen)

Translated by Alan Russel (November 19, 2007)

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Standing NATO Maritime Group One


Søværnets operative Kommando, Admiral Danish Fleet, Aarhus.

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