As a fellow submariner, I thought the readership of the THE SUBMARINE REVIEW might appreciate some insights on the Norwegian Navy and in particular, the Norwegian Submarine Force, during my first visit as Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and STRIKE FORCE NATO, to the Norwegian Fleet concentration area in Bergen, Norway earlier this month.
During my visit, Commodore Henning Amundsen, Commander of the Norwegian Fleet gave me a comprehensive overview of the capabilities that his country brings to the NATO Alliance at this most critical time in our history. On his water-front, I saw firsthand the nautical expertise that has defined Norway since the Viking Age.I was extremely impressed with His Norwegian Majesty’s Ship (HNoMS) HELGE INGSTAD, which is a state-of-the-art multi-mission Frigate that includes a deck gun, torpedoes, the Norwegian Strike Missile (NSM),and an ASW capable helicopter.I also admired the sleek and stealthy Skjold-class corvette.Also outfitted with state of the art weapons systems, this air cushioned corvette accelerates and moves like a sports car. After thirty minutes in the simulator, I was ready to go to sea!
Likewise, I saw innovations like the HUGIN,an autonomous underwater vehicle, a commercial off-the-shelf system that the Norwegian Navy has leveraged in partnership with industry to give it an autonomous underwater reconnaissance capability and mine countermeasures capability, among other things.All this next to Norway’s ULA-class submarines, moored on the same pier in the same spot I brought USS OKLAHOMA CITY to 14 years ago during my command tour -a nostalgic moment… I completed my day with a tour of the Norwegian Naval Academy, which mirrors our own in terms of technical curriculum and quality of officers produced in a four year program.
The capstone event on my trip was my attendance at the annual Norwegian Submarine Birthday Ball or Periskopballet, as they like to call the event. What a class act!This was the largest Periskopballet anyone could remember with over 200 attendees. That’s pretty impressive for such a compact Submarine Force.It was with malice of forethought that President of the Periscope Club (and sponsor of the Ball) Sub-Leftenant and Naval Cadet Øyvind Lavoll picked the date of the Ball.It happened on the conclusion of Perisher Ops in the fjords around Bergen for the last few weeks.The British, the Dutch and the Norwegian Teachers were all in attendance.Australian, British, Canadian, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, and three American Perspective Commanding Officers were all in the Perisher Course and part of the Ball.It was a splendid gathering of international submariners. RADM Jan Jæger (Ret.), former head of the Norwegian Submarine Force, and CDR Bjørn Erik Strønen, a fifty-year veteran (active and retired) of service to the Norwegian Submarine Force were the guests of honor.We were joined by an enthusiastic crowd of officers and enlisted members of the Norwegian Submarine Force. After a true Scandinavian feast and speeches, the night ended with a traditional Polonaise, waltzing, and the singing of “Kobbenvisa,” the Norwegian Submarine Force anthem.
While common values unite the NATO Alliance, the camaraderie of the submarine community makes those ties even stronger. I was honored to have been invited to give some remarks at the Periskopballet, and I will share them with you in the following few paragraphs:
Thank you very much for the kind introduction.It is great to be back in Norway. I have many fond memories of my visits here, so I was delighted to receive an invitation to this year’s Royal Norwegian Navy Periscope Ball.On behalf of the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations and fellow Submariner, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, and Commander of Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Mark Ferguson, and the men and women of Naval Forces Europe, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and the U.S. Navy Submarine Force, thank you for what you do as key supporters of our collective efforts to increase NATO’s scope of mission and military capabilities.
I know that Admiral Greenert and your Chief of Naval Operations, Rear Admiral Lars Saunes, are great friends and colleagues who have spent lots of time together over the years.Their personal friendship and our countries’ close partnership are excellent examples of what cultivated relationships can bring to bear in an Alliance.
My own affection for Norway began when I was the Commanding Officer of the fast attack submarine USS OKLAHOMA CITY.We made a couple of port visits to Norway during our 1999 deployment –one to Tromsø -the Paris of the North -and also here, to Bergen.I should point out that one year earlier, I spent my country’s Independence Day (July 4th) near the equator in Curacao in the Netherl and Antilles -so you can imagine the stark difference when exactly one year later, I found myself in Tromsø, Norway, the northern most city in Europe.When we pulled into Tromsø, I made an office call on the one-star regional commander. Knowing how much Americans revere their 4th of July Independence Day celebrations, he graciously offered to host a barbecue for me and my crew. I thought this would be outstanding so I took him up on his offer.
As we threw back some Ringnes beer on the pier, we watched the Commodore’s local chef in action, complete with an immaculate white apron and tall chef’s hat, cooking on asplit 50-gallon drum barbecue.Now, I have travelled a fair amount in my career, but I must admit that particular event was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had.We asked for traditional local food and we got it—reindeer, minke whale, and seal steaks between hamburger buns.You can put anything between a hamburger bun and Americans will eat it! It was absolutely amazing food, and my American submariners loved it! The day never seemed to end either—of course, that may be because we had 24-hours of summer sunlight. I quickly learned that Norwegian hospitality is second to none, and I thank you for taking care of me and my crew, and all the other crews that have been privileged to visit your great nation over the years.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe Norway is one of our best partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.Last May, I co-authored an article for the Proceedings magazine called “Forging a Global Network of Navies.”It stressed the importance of strengthening the bonds of international maritime cooperation so that we are better postured collectively to face new and emerging challenges in the 21st century.
Here are five things that I believe are necessary to forge this Global Network:
Where there is lawlessness, we must be present; when there are crises, we must respond.There is no problem too great and no contribution too small for the Global Network of Navies.Its success requires our collective participation. By pooling our resources, together we can overcome the challenges that threaten freedom and security in the global commons.
When there is time and resources, we must exercise together to improve interoperability.Later this year, Norway will participate in our annual JOINT WARRIOR and SHARK HUNT exercises, as you have in past years. The lessons learned and the relationships established between these maritime partners will serve to strengthen the Global Network of Navies as we face new challenges over the horizon.
3. Talk meaningfully.
When opportunities arise, we must continue to meet together, either embarked or ashore, to share our ideas and provide innovative solutions to problems. The International Maritime Seapower Symposium, Western Pacific Naval Symposium, Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, and the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) are all excellent gatherings that enable the fulfillment of this goal.
We must develop a common language.It is imperative to have a standardized way of interacting on the seas, where we can be clear about one another’s intentions and operations.And I am not talking about English as a common language between us, I am talking about a Common Operating Picture that enables us to see and share information and intelligence data.Maritime data standards help ensure consistent vocabulary and processes are used to promote safety and security.
5. Exchange Ideas.
We must foster navy-to-navy exchanges between our officer and non commissioned-officer corps.And we must send our best and brightest to take part in these exchanges that build relationships and foster familiarity with one another. The Combined Force Maritime Component Commander course, now expanding beyond the Naval War College to the Fleet level, and the Personnel Exchange Program are two prime examples whereby our leaders and future leaders can meet and share lessons learned and best practices with their counterparts. We will endeavor to increase enrollment and expand access to partner nations having not yet participatedin this courseof instruction.We are all facing similar fiscal pressure and rising challenges at sea, and no one nation has the ability to be everywhere all the time or to act alone.It is incumbent upon nations to work together in support of global maritime security.This goal is achievable-assuming we are committed to building trust and confidence. We must protect our interests around the world, we must promote and adhere to a system of international norms, and we must maintain stability worldwide by deterring potential adversaries from provoking regional conflicts.
Achieving these goals won’t happen overnight; it is a process that takes time and enduring commitment.It is about developing and fostering relationships with our international partners so all play a role in maintaining stability and security on the sea.As we work together to facilitate interoperability and build trust, we will all become stronger and better able to deal with the shared security challenges we face today and tomorrow.
I continue to see great examples of that maritime cooperation throughout this region. Norway regularly contributes to this network through bilateral and multilateral exercise participation, security patrols, and participation in navy-to-navy exchanges. You bring an exceptionalarray of maritime capabilities and capacity that includes frigates, guided missile patrol boats and combatants, mine warfare ships and P-3 aircraft, amphibious warfare ships, and
As the Sixth Fleet Commander, I am eager to continue strengthening and growing our relationship, and I’m honored to continue to work with you as an ally and a friend.I look forward to the important work we will collectively do to enhance the national security of both our nations. I also hope to see some of you at our Submarine Ball later this year in Naples, Italy.
Once again, thank you for asking me to join you. I look for-ward to engaging with many of you this evening.