Comparisons – NATO Allies –
Current Danish Naval Projects – May 2008
An Overview of Current, On-Going Danish Naval projects
Knud Rasmussen class Ice-Resistant OPV (Offshore Patrol
Danish Navy Arctic and North Atlantic "Inspection Ships" — the
Knud Rasmussen class
[ Update: 06 Aug 2010, the crew of Knud Rasmussen established a
record by reaching the further north of any ship sailing on the west coast of Greenland – 82°02'N, 62°01'W
– placing the Danish inspection ship just off the coast of Ellesmere Island where Quttinirpaaq National
Park meets the Robeson Channel in northernmost Nares Strait. For comparison, CFS Alert is 82°30'N, 62°19'W.
In December 2003, the Danish parliament approved 507M Kroner (Cdn $105.8M) for construction of two new Knud
Rasmussen class offshore patrol ships for North Atlantic and Arctic waters. In Danish service, such OPVs are
termed Inspektionsfartøjer (IF) or inspection ships. Contracts for the Knud Rasmussen class
OPV were signed almost exactly one year later, on 20 December 2004.
Prime contractor is the Karstensens Skibsværft of Skagen but the OPV hulls were build by the Stocznia
Pólnocna in Gdansk, Poland – these subcontractor arrangements are now the general trend in
European shipbuilding (hulls are build as far away as Ukraine or Rumania and towed as far as northern Norway).
Propulsion gear is fitted in Poland before hulls are towed to Denmark for complete outfitting.
At 1720 tons displacement, these new patrol vessels are substantially larger than their predecessors –
the 330-t Agdlek class Inspektionskutteren. In
the image at right, first of class HDMS Knud Rasmussen is seen at a dock
in Greenland sandwiched between
an inspection cutter,
Y388 Tulugaq, (left) and a larger Thetis class OPV, F359 Vædderen, (right). The new Knud Rasmussen class
will replace the cutters one for one.  Like the cutters, the new OPVs are ice-hardened. The Knud
Rasmussen class will sometimes be called upon to act as light icebreakers.
In April 2008, HDMS Knud Rasmussen deployed to Greenland for tests in Arctic conditions. Off Nuuk, the vessel
handled Beaufort 6 conditions (25 m/s winds and 3-to-4m waves) without major difficulty. Encounters with sea ice did
reveal minor problems. Although the hull could easily deal
with routine 40cm sea ice and the specified 70cm of
hard fjord ice, broken ice was injested by the engine cooling seawater intakes. Some reshaping will be required
before the return to Greenland.
Tasks will include sea surveillance, sovereignty and fisheries patrol, environment protection, search and rescue,
assistance to the Danish and Greenland governments – including police and transport service for
government officials – icebreaking, towing, salvage, medevac, and diver assistance. The increase in size
over the Agdlek class results in greater endurance (for both crew and ship) enabling patrols further
offshore. Larger engines and a longer hull line also allow a higher top speed – 17-to-18 knots compared
with 11-to-12 kts for the old cutters. This top speed is important, considering the great distances which must
be covered in Greenland waters. On average, the old Agdlek class cutters on station have each covered more
than 25,000+ nautical miles per year.
Another advantage of the increase in size is the ability to carry more equipment and armament.
However, having taken the Standard Flex approach, mounting this containerized gear is optional.
The 76mm main gun (shown in the sideview, below) won't normally be mounted. Instead, armament will
be restricted to two .50-cal Browning machineguns (easing crew workload and helping keep crew size down).
When heavier armament is needed, the gun will be fitted into the forecastle StanFlex slot. A rear container position
can hold a Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) launcher. The MU90 antisubmarine torpedo is another quick fit. Larger
ship size allows
a sizeable rear helicopter deck as well. Medium heli- copters can land-on and fuel but there is
Beneath the helicopter landing deck is an internal bay
for a 12m LCP class landing craft with its own
launch- and-recovery slipway. The high-speed LCPs meant for the Knud Rasmussen class are strengthened for
Arctic service and outfitted with search-and-rescue gear. 
A roll-up door on the starboard upper
hull side covers
a stowage bay for two RHIB boats and davits. Stowage for ships boats and LCPs may seem
extravagant but it helps limit the deleterious effects of Arctic ice buildup.
For surveillance, the Knud Rasmussen class are fitted with the Danish Terma Scanter 4100 radar which is
effective for small targets at distances up to 160 km in difficult conditions. The Scanter 4100 can be
used for detecting both air and surface targets. Terma A/S has also provided the C4I system (Command, Control,
Communication, Computerization and Information). This C4I system will enable Knud Rasmussen class
vessels to participate in net-based operations by exchanging data between national and international
naval units, as well as Danish army and air force units.
HDMS Knud Rasmussen is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2008. The second hull
– Ejnar Mikkelsen – is being outfitted at Karstensens and is expected in September of
[ Update: The second Knud Rasmussen class OPV has now been been
named (by the Speaker of the Landsting, Greenland's Parliament). Continuing the Danish Arctic explorer
theme begun with HDMS Knud Rasmussen, P571 is HDMS Ejnar Mikkelsen. Two more OPVs may
* Standard fit (which is lighter than that of the Agdlek class). As noted, containerized
|| Knud Rasmussen class Inspection Ship
|| 1,720 tonnes
|| length 61m, beam 14.6m, draught
|| 18 crew (but can accommodate up to 43
| 2 x 2,720 kW (3650 hp) at 800
Alpha 8L27/28 diesel engines, 1 propeller
|| 3,000 nautical miles (3,452 mi /
|| top speed 17 - 18 knots (31.5 -
|| 2 x 12.7 mm Browning M/01 LvSa
can include a 76 mm gun
(M/85 LvSa), ESSM,
and EuroTorp MU90 (M/04 antiubaadstorpedo).
 A third Knud Rasmussen class will probably be included in the next defence agreement (there were three
Agdlek class cutters in service although one has now been decommissioned and sold off). There is also
speculation that a fourth Knud Rasmussen class might be added to replace the Beskytteren, a 1,970-t
OPV decommissioned in 2000 and transferred to Estonia as Admiral Pitka.
 The 6.5-t LCPs are powered by a 625 hp diesel driving a water-jet. A top speed of 38-40 knots will speed
up SAR work and be an asset in the vast fjords off Davis Strait. These boats are same as those purchased
for the Absalon class support and command
ships other than equipment fit and strengthened hulls. Ships boats are a twin-engined 7m RHIB and a 4.8m
RHIB. All three are kept in heated spaces so that they are not covered with ice and their engines can
be kept ready.
Further reading: Danish Naval History (Knud
Rasmussen class, commissioning, & second hull ), Forsvaret presentation (pdf, in Danish). Plus Agdlek
class and more on the LCP landing craft.