Skjold-class corvettes (skjold means “shield” in Norwegian) are a class of six large, superfast, stealth missile corvettes in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy. The boats were formerly classed as MTBs (motor torpedo boats) but, from 2009, the Royal Norwegian Navy has described them as corvettes (korvett) because their seaworthiness is seen as comparable to corvettes, and because they do not carry torpedoes. They were built at the Umoe Mandal yard. With a maximum speed of 60 knots (110 km/h), the Skold-class corvettes were the fastest combat ships afloat at the time of their introduction.
The Skjold-class vessels began with the development of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s “Project SMP 6081”, and the first preproduction version was ordered on 30 August 1996. The first ship of its class, P960, was launched on 22 September 1998 and commissioned 17 April 1999. A Norwegian Parliamentary White Paper of 2001 recommended building five additional boats, and this was agreed to in 2002. Six Skjold-class vessels replaced the Royal Norwegian Navy’s previous fourteen Hauk-class patrol boats.
The Skjold design is a surface effect craft, constructed of glass fibre/carbon composite materials. Buoyancy is augmented underway by a fan-blown skirted compartment between the two rigid catamaran-type hulls. This provides an alternative solution to the planing hull/vee hull compromise: the air cushion reduces wave slam at high speeds while presenting a low-drag flat planing profile at the waterline.
To ensure stealth capabilities, anechoic coatings of radar absorbent materials (RAM) have been used in the load-bearing structures over large areas of the ship. This strategy leads to significant weight saving compared to the conventional construction technique of applying RAM cladding to the external surfaces. The ship’s profile has a faceted appearance with no right angle structures and few orientations of reflective panels. Doors and hatches are flush with the surfaces and the windows are flush without visible coaming (edge of window aperture) and are fitted with radar reflective screens. The vessels are additionally protected by the Rheinmetall MASS sensor / decoy system.
The hull material was produced by a different method to improve strength and minimize vulnerability to fire. The bridge saw some changes, including an upgrade to six weapon systems control consoles.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard expressed interest in the design and leased the P960 for a period of one year, from 2001 until 2002. During that time it was operated by a 14-man Norwegian crew out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek.
|P960||Skjold||4 August 1997||22 September 1998||17 April 1999|
|P961||Storm||October 2005||1 November 2006||9 September 2010|
|P962||Skudd||March 2006||30 April 2007||28 October 2010|
|P963||Steil||October 2006||15 January 2008||30 June 2011|
|P964||Glimt||May 2007||March 2012|
|P965||Gnist||December 2007||November 2012|
|Builders:||Umoe Mandal, Mandal, Norway|
|Operators:||Royal Norwegian Navy|
|Preceded by:||Hauk class|
|Displacement:||274 tonnes full load|
|Beam:||13.5 m (44 ft)|
|Draught:||1.0 m (3.3 ft)|
|Range:||920 miles at 46 mph, 800 nmi (1,500 km) at 40 knots (74 km/h)|