Norway is implementing a program for the partial renovation of the naval forces of the Navy's Coast Guard. In the coming years, it is planned to decommission the existing Nordkapp-class patrol ships, which are morally and physically obsolete. To replace them, a modern project "6615" has been developed and brought to construction. The lead ship of this type was recently handed over for completion, and it may enter service next year.
Currently, the Norwegian Navy (Kystvakten) has about a dozen ships and boats of various classes. Almost all of these pennants began service in the early 2000s or later. The only exceptions are three Nordkapp-class patrol boats, delivered in 1980-82. In the past, they were repeatedly modernized, but the issue of replacing these ships with new ones has been considered for a long time.
Back in the early tenths, the Navy worked out a preliminary plan for updating the SOBR. It provided for the withdrawal of three "Nordkapps" from service by 2020 with the simultaneous receipt of the same number of new-built ships. It was proposed to develop and build two types of patrol boats at once - one according to the new project "6615" and two pr. "3049".
The 6615 proposal received parliamentary approval and work continued. The Navy developed tactical and technical requirements for the future "6615", and already in 2013-14. LMG Marin AS presented a project of such a ship. Later, the project was finalized and improved, but its main provisions remained unchanged.
According to the original plans, in 2014-15. The Navy guard was to find a contractor and sign a contract for the construction of the future patrol. However, for economic and organizational reasons, the program was delayed. Moreover, in 2016, these factors led to a revision of plans. It was decided to abandon Project 3049, but order three 6615 ships at once to replace three old Nordkapps.
On the eve of construction
Plans for 2016 provided for the construction of ships by the forces of the Norwegian industry. Foreign enterprises should be involved only as suppliers of components. In the near future, they were going to hold a competition and choose a lead performer. Due to this, as well as due to timely and full financing, it was planned to start construction of the lead ship no later than 2017-18.
In December 2016, the BOKHR started accepting applications for the competition. All six major shipyards in Norway were expected to participate, but only three showed interest in the program. In October 2017, the Ministry of Defense announced the winner; it was the Vard Group AS Langsten company, which had extensive experience in cooperation with the Navy and the Defense Forces.
It should be noted that the choice of the winner was noticeably delayed. The fact is that the adjusted shipbuilding plans again had to be carried out through all the authorities. At the same time, the program has faced criticism. It was argued that over the past 5-6 years, the requirements of the BOHR and the project from LMG Marin AS are outdated and need to be revised. Nevertheless, they were defended, and the program continued without significant changes.
The contract for the construction of the 6615 patrol ships was signed only in June 2018. The agreement, worth more than NOK 5 billion (approx. USD 600 million), provides for the construction of three ships with delivery in 2021-24. with an option for the fourth building.
Due to the limited capacity of the Norwegian shipyard, a specific approach to construction was used. So, the Romanian plant Vard Tulcea is responsible for the construction of hulls for ships. Then the finished products are proposed to be transferred to Vard Group AS Langsten for the completion and installation of all the necessary equipment.
The ships of the new type are named after the islands belonging to Norway. The lead was named KV Jan Mayen; the same is now called the project "6615" as a whole. The second will be established as KV Bjørnøya (Bjørnøya - Bear Island), and the third will be called KV Hopen (Hopen Island - Hope).
The Jan Mayen project, in its current form, proposes the construction of an ice-class multipurpose patrol ship capable of solving a wide range of combat and auxiliary missions. The design full displacement of such a ship is 9.6 thousand tons. Length - 136 m, width - 21.4 m. Draft - 6, 2 m. The crew will include approx. 100 people Autonomy - 8 weeks.
The ship receives a hull of traditional contours, reinforced to work in ice up to 1 m thick. An advanced multi-tiered superstructure with bulwarks is used to protect the crew and units from the harsh Arctic conditions. There is a helicopter hangar in the stern of the superstructure; behind him is the take-off platform. A section of the deck for the transportation of goods is provided behind the site, and a crane is also located there. Part of the outer surfaces of the ship is equipped with a heating system.
A diesel-electric main power plant is used. The movement is carried out by two propeller motors and two screws. In the bow there is a thruster, two more are in the stern. A nasal rudder is also provided. The design maximum speed reaches 22 knots.
The radio-electronic armament of the 6615 ship includes the Hensoldt TRS-3D-MSSR-2000-IFF radar and other modern systems, mostly of foreign origin. To search for underwater objects, there is a Kongsberg SS 1221 sonar complex.
The guard guard has limited combat capabilities. A Bofors artillery mount with a 57-mm automatic cannon is placed in front of the superstructure. There are also two Kongsberg Protector RWS remote-controlled combat modules with heavy machine guns. The project provides for the fundamental possibility of installing light anti-aircraft or anti-ship missile systems - at the request of the customer.
The first version of the Jan Mayen project envisaged the organization of a wide hangar in the superstructure, capable of receiving two helicopters. The final version allows to carry only one NH-90 helicopter or another machine of similar dimensions. There are hatches on the sides of the superstructure, behind which three rigid-hull inflatable boats of different sizes are transported.
In the first months of 2020, the laying of the lead ship Jan Mayen took place at the Romanian shipyard Vard Tulcea. The known events of recent times did not have a negative impact on this construction, and all planned works were carried out without significant deviations from the established schedule. The main structures of the hull and superstructure are manufactured and assembled. The unfinished patrol boat was launched.
On August 6, the towing of the hull to Norway began. In late August or early September, he will be brought to the Vard Group AS Langsten plant, where the last phase of construction will take place. The ship will have to be equipped with the necessary systems, equipment and weapons. Finally, it will be painted in the regular light gray color.
This year Jan Mayen will have to go to sea trials. In the absence of any problems, the ship is planned to be accepted into the combat composition of the Navy's security guard in the 1st quarter of the next 2022. After that, the fleet will have the opportunity to begin the procedures for removing the outdated KV Nordkapp ship from the structure.
Construction of the second ship in the series, KV Bjørnøya, was about to begin, but this was not reported. According to the plan, "Bjørnøya" will replenish the SOBR ship structure in the first months of 2023.Accordingly, KV Hopen will be laid in a few months, and its delivery to the customer is scheduled for early 2024. Thanks to this, the Navy will be able to write off the two remaining Nordkapps by the middle of the decade.
After years of development, sourcing and organization of work, the 6615 / Jan Mayen Coast Guard patrol program has successfully started and is already yielding first results. The lead ship is ready at the level of the main structures, and will receive all the necessary equipment in the coming months. It will be followed by two new pennants over the next three years.
The receipt of three Jan Mayen ships will allow the decommissioning of outdated Nordkapp patrol boats approaching their service life limit. As a result of their write-off, the average age of the SOBR fleet will be sharply reduced. Norway's oldest SOBR unit after that will be the patrol icebreaker KV Svalbard, commissioned in 2001.
Ditching outdated ships in favor of modern hulls will have obvious positive consequences. The overall potential, patrol and combat capabilities of the Navy's SOBR will increase significantly, and the operation and modernization of ships to meet current requirements will be significantly simplified. However, to obtain such results, it is necessary to complete an already started program, which will take several years.