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Edited and
Designed by:

Johnny E. Balsved


August 18, 2008

Next Stop Malta:

ABSALON is heading South on its first Live International Mission

Sunday, August 17, ABSALON left Frederikshavn, heading for Bahrain, where the Navy mid-September will be taking over command of the multinational naval force, Combined Task Force 150.

ABSALON leaving Frederikshavn closely followed a the second LYNX.
(Photo: Johnny E. Balsved)

Click here to see the photos in a higher resolution...

By Johnny E. Balsved

At precisely 1500 hours, Sunday the 17th of August the Command and Support ship ABSALON left Frederikshavn, heading for Bahrain, where the Commander of Danish Task Group (COM DATG), Commodore Per Bigum Christensen mid-September will be taking over command of the international naval force, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).

Danish Task Group (DATG) has the national name "Søværnets Taktiske Stab" (Naval Tactical Staff).

It is the first time that ABSALON is deployed to a live mission, and it is also the first time a Danish naval vessel joins the multinational naval force in the Indian Ocean. The Danish Navy has previously had a liaisons officer assigned to the force though.

Credit to the Danish Navy

In his speech at the parade, Admiral Danish Fleet ("Chefen for Søværnets Operative Kommando (SOK)"), Rear Admiral Nils Wang said, "It is the first time the Danish Navy takes command of a large international operation. But it makes good sense, since 90% of all world trade is transported by sea, and 10% of this takes place on ships that are either Danish loaded or Danish owned".

The Admiral also used his speech to thank the crew, who have been heavily drawn on during the last year, preparing them and the ship for the upcoming operation.

He considered it as something near a world record, in peacetime, to be able to deploy the Command and Support ship to its first live mission, only 5 years, 3 months and 17 days after the first steel was welded.

Not only was the ship delivered on time, it was also on budget, the Admiral pointed out, but the crew has also played a very large part in the ship being able to leave Frederikshavn today, ready and well equipped.

When the Danish Navy mid-September takes over command of the multinational naval force it will be a tremendous acknowledgment to both the Danish Navy as a whole, and particularly to the DATG.

Operational Area

The approximately 20 ships that will be under Danish command must cover a very large Operational Area, as COM DATG, Commodore Per Bigum Christensen, informed in his briefing.

The Operational Area includes all of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and a large part of the northwestern corner of the Indian Ocean, limited to the east by the border between Pakistan and India and to the south by the border between Somalia and Kenya.

The main task of the force is so-called Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), which is keeping check on the cargo being transported in the area of operations.

Ships in local traffic, which are suspected of transporting weapons or other cargo related to terrorism, will usually be checked by a boarding team (BT).

C.O., Commodore Per Bigum Christensen briefs about the vast area of operations.
(Photo: Johnny E. Balsved)

Click here to see the photos in a higher resolution...

The mission tasks also include Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which is protection of ships and installations in the Operational Area, Theater Security Cooperation (TSC), which is support to weaker nations in the region and Search and Rescue missions (SAR).

Heightened security

As earlier reported, the security surrounding the deployment has been heightened, and the expected ports of call during the mission could not be revealed, except that the ship will call at ports in the area.

It is determined though, that the Command and Support ship on the way to Bahrain will call at Malta, where there will be a last chance of getting fresh supplies and handling any remaining replacements of crew.

Many crewmembers expressed that they would have liked to see if ABSALON could stay at sea for the 28 days it is designed for.

Nothing should stop the ship from being able to sail non-stop to Bahrain, but various equipment needs to be tested, including magnetic measurements in the Mediterranean, so the crew will get a short stay on Malta.

The ship is expected to reach Bahrain on the 9th of September, where the last preparations will be made, before taking over the command of CTF 150 for the remainder of the year, on September 15.

Largest maritime contribution

Not only is it one of the largest Danish naval vessels ever, that takes part in an international mission, crew wise it is also one of the largest deployments of Danish navy personnel in recent times.

ABSALON will during the deployment house approximately 160 officers, non-commissioned officers and privates.

Besides the normal complement of the ship of 99 persons, DATG participates with approximately 30 persons and additionally a number of liaisons officers. Added to this comes the helicopter crew and technicians, as well as Danish Navy SEALs ("Søværnets Frømandskorps"), Military Police and Combat engineers which can assist at boarding's etc.

As usual when a Danish naval vessel is sent on a longer expedition, the ship brings a Navy Chaplain. A doctor and a fully qualified nurse have been assigned to the ships hospital, to supplement the ships own medical personnel.

The Commanding Officer of ABSALON, Captain Frank Trojahn, also informed that 9 members of the crew are female, including two officers.

The personnel from DATG will stay aboard for the entire mission, which will last for approximately 6 months, while the crew is expected to be replaced by the crew of the sister ship ESBERN SNARE after 3 months of deployment.

Mission standard and oath of allegiance

Before departing Frederikshavn, a parade was held on the quay in honor of the ships crew and the members of DATG. The Deputy Chief of Defence ("Chef for Forsvarsstaben"), Lieutenant General Bjørn Bisserup, called upon the crew to take care of themselves and their colleagues during the mission.

When units from the Army and the Air Force are deployed on international missions, it has become customary to bring a standard, a so-called mission standard.

The Deputy Chief of Defence also wanted to give DATG such a mission standard to bring with them.

A Danish naval standard is traditionally a pole, and it was therefore a pole and not an ordinary standard, the Commanding Officer of the force, Commodore Per Bigum Christensen, was presented with.

A pole is, in this connection, a boat hook with a naval ensign attached to it.

The Commodore passed the standard to the designated standard-bearer, while he seized the opportunity to refresh parts of the original oath of allegiance. The standard was then taken to the right wing of the line up.

The Deputy Chief of Defence presents the mission standard to COM DATG.
(Photo: Johnny E. Balsved)

Click here to see the photos in a higher resolution...

Finally, the Admiral Danish Fleet wished the ship and the crew fair winds and following seas.

Ready to sail

When the parade ended, staff and crew marched to the ship, to board and prepare to sail.

The cast off took place at exactly 1500 hours, and ABSALON left Frederikshavn, eagerly followed by the eyes of the many relatives and the Danish Defence Media Center, who had be given free disposal of a LYNX helicopter, so that they could film the entire departure from the air.

While the ship was leaving Frederikshavn harbor, two F16 planes from the Air Force made a so-called "fly-past" as a gesture to wish the ship a safe voyage.

ABSALON continued out to the cardinal mark off Frederikshavn, before setting course north to go around Skagen, with next stop Malta.

Two F16 planes made a "fly past" to wish ABSALON a safe voyage.
(Photo: Johnny E. Balsved)

Click here to see the photos in a higher resolution...

More pictures:

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Søværnets operative Kommando, Admiral Danish Fleet, Aarhus.

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This page was first published: August 18, 2008 (December 1, 2008)

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