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"Uneasily" and "nearly scandalous," warships sailed for years without effective cannons.

DR-Inland in Denmark

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 • 5:15 PM UTC - in Denmark

It is not possible for Danish warships to create a real deterrent effect if needed, according to criticism from several parties, after it was revealed that two Danish warships have sailed for years without an essential weapon system. A system that is crucial for the ship's cannon on the forecastle to hit accurately.

- There is a security political situation in Europe and the North Atlantic that requires us to have warship capacity, which also has weapons on board that can be used if necessary, says Carsten Bach, defense spokesperson from Liberal Alliance.

The same call for a better-equipped defense comes from the Inuit Ataqatigiit party.

- It is mentally important that we ensure, in relation to Greenland, that we know what is happening. That we know, for example, if there is Russian activity or capacities that we do not want to be involved in or from other countries, that we can act on it, says Aaja Chemnitz, who is a member of parliament for the party.

Two of the Defense's newest warships sailed for 15 years without a cannon that could shoot and hit precisely. This happened, even though the missing weapon system was bought, paid for, and delivered. This is clear from the report that DR has obtained access to.

The reason that the purchased weapon system was not installed was that the ships could not be taken out of daily service, and there was no room at the shipyard.

Christian Friis Bach, defense spokesperson for the Radical Left, is frustrated by the situation.

- The story shows that we are too brittle when it comes to our navy. When we cannot even manage to take a ship to the shipyard, and our capacity is too small, he says.


Nearly Scandalous


Last year, the inspection vessel Ejnar Mikkelsen finally received the system that allows the cannon on the ship's forecastle to shoot and hit a target.

The other ship, which is called Knud Rasmussen, will not receive the weapon system until next year. Ten years have passed since the Parliament's Finance Committee otherwise approved 42 million kroner to buy and install the systems.

Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (V) ordered the report. He did this after DR in January was able to reveal that the cannons on the Defense's newest arctic warships had not been able to shoot for 15 years.

He calls the situation unsatisfactory.

- It has taken too long to get the systems installed that we have ordered. In addition, the parliamentarians and the negotiating committee have not received the necessary information about why we were delayed, says Troels Lund Poulsen, who 'can only regret' the situation.

- It can be okay to be delayed from some criteria that we can discuss. But if we are delayed, we should inform why, so that the politicians who have made the decisions know what is going on.

Carsten Bach (LA) is also longing for the defense not to be out of the loop regarding the delay.

- I think it is a very unfortunate development - nearly scandalous that the defense's top management does not follow up and has focused on implementing the political decisions that are made around the table, where the defense's top management is also represented, he says.


New defense plan on the way


At the end of April, the parties behind the defense agreement presented a new supplementary agreement that aims to strengthen Danish defense.

This should, among other things, be achieved by investing 48 billion in building a combat-ready 1. Brigade for the Army, as well as investing in a land-based air defense system.

However, the parties also agreed to draw up a long-term defense plan.

This should be based on, among other things, recommendations from a maritime partnership. This collaboration consists of a cooperation between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Business and a series of organizations including Danish Industry and Danish Maritime. ( )


The Danish Navy's ships in Greenland and the Faroe Islands


The Defense and the Navy patrol the waters around Greenland and the Faroe Islands with two types of ships:

* Inspection ships of Thetis-class and inspection vessels of the Knud Rasmussen-class.

* The ships' tasks are military defense of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, enforcement of sovereignty, search and rescue, and assistance to the police, as well as medical visits to remote villages and other tasks that help the local communities.

* When the ships patrol in the North Atlantic, operations are controlled by the Arctic Command in Nuuk.

According to the agreement, there should be a political discussion latest in the fall of 2024 with a focus on, among other things, replacement for Thetis-class ships and patrol ships.

The defense minister has also previously expressed the need for new arctic warships because the Thetis-class ships are old and worn out. ( )

And there is a need for a new defense plan especially in a time when the world has become more uncertain and the demands from NATO to Denmark only increase in terms of delivering on the strength requirements that ensure the alliance's ability to deter – also in the North Atlantic and the Arctic.

Radikale Venstres Christian Friis Bach agrees.

- Our Danish navy cannot monitor and patrol the Arctic area, where threats are increasing – it is a big problem for us. It is also another reason to make a long-term defense plan, he says.

- We must think 30-40 years ahead and ensure that we have capacity on the shipyards to build ships, and that we get the ships that will be needed to monitor and patrol and, in the end, defend the Arctic area, he says.

Carsten Bach from Liberal Alliance also agrees on the need to make a long-term plan for the navy.

- It shows that there is a need for us now to focus not only on presence but also on deterrence, and that we have a weapon capacity that can be used in the Arctic, he says and adds:

- That the cannons have not worked on the ships until now, it may be possible, but in the security political situation we are in now, it is not a sustainable situation, he says.

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