Tag: Ships

The Battle of Niså, the Invasion of Demark by Norwegian king Harald Hardrada

Battle of Niså – king Harald Hardrada aboard his Longship during his attempt to invade Denmark.

The Battle of Niså (Slaget ved Niså) was a naval battle fought on 9 August 1062 between the forces of Norwegian king Harald Hardrada and king Sweyn II of Denmark.

Harald had claimed the Danish throne since 1047, and had launched raids into Denmark ever since. With his invasion in 1062, he wanted to decisively defeat the Danes, and thus finally be able to conquer Denmark. The battle was won clearly by the Norwegians, but since many Danes managed to escape, including Sweyn, it proved indecisive in Harald’s attempt to conquer Denmark.

When Harald became the sole king of Norway in 1047, he also claimed the Danish throne, despite that his predecessor and co-ruler Magnus the Good (king of Norway and Denmark) had appointed Sweyn Estridsen as his successor in Denmark. Since 1048, Harald launched raids into Denmark almost annually, attempting to force Sweyn out of the country. Although the raids were largely successful, Harald never managed to occupy Denmark. With the invasion in 1062, he sought to gain a decisive victory over Sweyn.

Harald Hardrada – the last of the ‘great Vikings’ who invaded England in 1066 AD.

According to the Icelandic saga writer Snorri Sturluson, the battle had been preassigned a time and place, but Sweyn did not appear as agreed. Harald thus sent home his non-professional ships and soldiers, the “peasant army” (bóndaherrin), which had made up around half of his forces. When the ships were out of sight, Sweyn finally appeared and engaged Harald’s fleet. With his own so-called drekanum ship in the middle, Harald tied his ships together in order to prevent gaps in the line. He placed earl Haakon Ivarsson and his forces from Trøndelag on the flanks. Sweyn used the same tactic, but unlike Harald had his own earl Finn Arnesson placed right next to himself, instead of on the flanks. The battle commenced in the evening, and lasted through the night.

The History Channel show ‘Vikings’ naval battle between the Vikings and the Franks gives a good representation of how the Vikings prepared for and conducted naval battles (see video above).

The two sides were evenly matched for a long time into the battle, until Haakon disengaged his ships from the flanks and started attacking the weakened Danish ships on the flanks. Sweyn had no similar reserve force, and his fleet was defeated by dawn, with 70 ships left “empty” and the remainder retreating.

While Finn Arnesson fought until he was captured, Sweyn jumped into the water and was rescued by his former ally Haakon (albeit unknowingly to Harald). Haakon was after the battle universally recognized, including by Harald, as the hero of the battle, but when his treachery in rescuing Sweyn was discovered he fell into disfavour (even though Haakon claimed Sweyn had been in disguise, and that he had not recognized it was him).

Sweyn II King of Denmark 1047-1074.

Aftermath

Although Harald won the battle, the victory was not decisive since many Danish ships and men had managed to escape, including Sweyn. Denmark’s economic and social fabric had been destroyed by the yearly raids, but the lengthy war had also taken its toll in Norway. After the Battle of Niså, Harald had trouble collecting taxes in the Uplands, and probably also in other areas. In 1064, Harald finally offered Sweyn unconditional peace without reparations or loss of land, and the two kings concluded peace.

References

Ships in Focus: Hämeenmaa-class minelayer

FNS Uusimaa

The Hämeenmaa-class minelayers (Finnish: Hämeenmaa-luokan miinalaiva) is a two vessel strong class of minelayers, used by the Finnish Navy.

The ships have a steel hull and alloy superstructure. The class has an ice operating classification of ICE-1A and can operate year-round. The design included some first attempts on stealth technology in the Finnish Navy.

During a crisis the main task for the Hämeenmaa-class ships is minelaying, but the vessels can also act as escort, transport and depot ships.

The contract for the Hämeenmaa class was originally awarded to Wärtsilä Marine, but following its bankruptcy the contract was transferred to Hollming. Turmoil in the Finnish shipbuilding industry didn’t stop there. In early 1992 Hollming and Rauma Yards merged their shipbuilding industry to form a new company called Finnyards.

Modernization

Both ships were modernized 2006–08. The purpose of the modernization was to firstly upgrade the ships’ equipment to fit modern standards, and secondly, to enable the ships to participate in international operations, mainly European Security and Defence Policy operations. They are fitted with weapons systems transferred from the discontinued Tuuli-class hovercraft including the Umkhonto missile system. Also a new fire control system Saab 9LV325E FCS, modern monitoring equipment including TRS3D-16ES surveillance radar and Kongsberg ST2400 Variable Depth Sonar and SS2030 Hull mounted sonar, were installed.

In October 2013, Hämeenmaa changed its homeport from Pansio to Upinniemi to replace the decommissioned Pohjanmaa.

Umkhonto missile system

Modernization of the two Hämeenmaa-class ships serves of course the interests of Finnish Navy, but also the ones of EU’s Helsinki Headline Goal: these two ships will most likely be the most important ships for EU, having relatively wide selection of roles that they can assume, from light espionage- and minelayer ship to escort- and anti-submarine warfare ship, these two vehicles are practically perfect for monitoring Russia’s Baltic fleet.

Weaponry
Original After modernization
2 × Bofors 40 mm dual-purpose guns 1 × Bofors 57 mm dual-purpose gun
2 × twin 23 mm anti-aircraft guns 2 x 12,7mm machine guns
1 × six-missile ItO 91 surface-to-air missile launcher 1 × eight-cell ItO 04 surface-to-air missile launcher
2 × anti-submarine rocket launchers 2 × anti-submarine rocket launchers
2 × depth charge rails 2 × depth charge rails
100-150 sea mines (four mine laying rails) 100-150 sea mines (four mine laying rails)

Hämeenmaa was delivered from the dock back to the Navy on 13 April 2007 and Uusimaa, which had been under modernization since November 2006 at the Aker Yards dock in Rauma, was delivered on 26 October 2007. Hämeenmaa and Uusimaa conducted sea trials on their new systems until the end of 2008, when operational readiness was achieved. In October 2013 Hämeenmaa took over the role of flagship of the Finnish Navy with the retirement of Pohjamaa in 2015.

Hämeenmaa-class minelayer, FNS Uusimaa, on exercise with a Hamina-class missile boat

Vessels

FNS Hämeenmaa Pennant number: 02.

Builder: Finnyards.Ordered: 29 December 1989.Laid down: 2 April 1991.Launched: 11 November 1991.

Commissioned: 15 April 1992.Home base: Upinniemi. Current status: In active service.

FNS Uusimaa Pennant number: 05.

Builder: Finnyards.Ordered: 13 February 1991.Laid down: 12 November 1991.Launched: June 1992.

Commissioned: 2 December 1992.Home base: Pansio. Current status: In active service.

FNS Hämeenmaa, pennant number 02, a Hämeenmaa class minelayer at Suomenlinna, Helsinki
Class overview
Name: Hämeenmaa
Operators:  Finnish Navy
Preceded by: Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa
Succeeded by:
Completed: 2
General characteristics
Type: Minelayer
Displacement: 1,450 tons
Length: 77.8 m (255 ft)
Beam: 11.5 m (38 ft)
Draught: 3 m (9.8 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × Wärtsilä Vasa 16V22 diesel; 5,200 kW with 2 CW propellers
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 60
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Furuno S/X (nav radars)
  • Saab 9LV325E FCS (Fire Control System)
  • Simrad hull-mounted sonar
  • EADS TRS3D-16ES (Surveillance Radar)
  • Sagem EOMS (Electro Optical Multisensor System)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • Decoy: 2 × MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill Systems)
  • ESM: Thales DR3000 SIEWS (Shipborne Integrated Electronic Warfare System)
Armament:
  • 1 × Bofors 57 mm/70 Mk1
  • 8-cell Denel Umkhonto-IR VLS SAM system
  • 2 × 12.7 mm machine gun
  • 2 × H&K GMG grenade machinegun
  • 2 × RBU-1200 depth charge rocket launcher
  • 2 × rails for depth charges
  • 4 × rails for 100-150 mines
Notes:
  • Ships in class include:
  • FNS Hämeenmaa (02)
  • FNS Uusimaa (05)

 

 

Special Forces in Focus: The Danish Jaegerkorpset/Hunter Corps and Fromandskorpset/Frogmen Corps

Jaegerkorpset- Hunter Force or Hunter Corps. Danish Army Special Forces Maroon berets.

The Hunter Corps (Danish: Jægerkorpset) is an elite, special forces unit of the Royal Danish Army based at Aalborg Air Base.

The group unit insignia of Jægerkorpset.

The first incarnation of the corps was formed in 1785 as Jægercorpset i Sielland (The Hunter Corps of Zealand) and existed in various forms until it was remade in its current form in 1962 where Major P.B.Larsen and First lieutenant Jørgen Lyng were the first two to complete the training. Their hunting origin is recalled in the hunting horn on their insignia. In the year 1995, the Corps was deployed for the first time. A six-man team was sent to Sarajevo, Bosnia as a counter-sniper reconnaissance team.

Throughout the Cold War, the Jaegers’ primary tasking was that of a long-range reconnaissance unit, with wide renown for their skills in parachute operations. However, with the advent of the post-9/11 Global War on Terror, the Jaegers were modernized to better meet the developing threat of global terrorism. As such, the Jaegers increased their proficiency in counter-terrorism skills, while still maintaining their excellence at reconnaissance operations.

In 2002, the Jaegers were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Danish contribution to Task Force K-Bar, along with the Frogman Corps. During these operations, the Jaegers took part in de-mining operations, reconnaissance in support of conventional forces, the capturing of high-value targets, and direct-action raids on Taliban and al-Qaeda positions. As part of Task Force K-Bar, the Jaegers were awarded “The Presidential Unit citation” on December 7, 2004 for its effort as part of the joint-forces special forces group in Afghanistan.

Jægerkorpset unit in Afghanistan.

The selection course to become a Jægersoldat (a member of Jægerkorpset) is very demanding, both mentally and physically. For a candidate to be accepted into the corps, he/she must complete the following:

  • Pre-course 1 (5 days)
Introduces the candidate to the subjects covered in the patrol course, and gives the candidate a feel for what he/she must get better at. (Orienteering, swimming, etc.)
  • Pre-course 2 (2 days)
More training and evaluation in the above covered subjects.
  • Pre-course 3 (2 days)
More training and evaluation in the above covered subjects with tougher requirements.
  • Patrol Course (8 weeks)
Basic patrol skills. This course must be completed at a satisfactory level to continue to the aspirant course.
  • Aspirant Course (6 weeks)
Very demanding course teaching the candidate the physical limits of himself/herself and his/her patrol. If passed the candidate is awarded his/her “bugle” for the beret.
  • Basic parachuting course (2 weeks)
  • Combat Swimming Course (2 weeks)
When all this has been completed to a satisfactory level, the candidate can begin their actual training. Following the successful completion of a years full time training, the maroon beret is awarded, and the soldier is considered a full member of the corps.
Jægerkorpset og Frømandskorpset overdrages til Specialoperationskommandoen.

Jægerkorpset wears the maroon beret with a brass emblem depicting a hunter’s bugle on a black felt liner. After one year of satisfactory service and training in corps the wearer is issued the shoulder patch “JÆGER” (English: Hunter) and may call himself by this name.

Jægerkorpset is composed of around 150 highly trained soldiers with special expertise in counter-terrorism, demolitions, parachuting, and combat swimming, HAHO and HALO parachuting, infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance and more. The corps regularly trains with similar units from different countries, such as the US Navy SEALs, US Army DELTA , British SAS and the Danish naval special forces group, the Frogman Corps. The corps is based on the structure and modus operandi of the British SAS.

Their slogan, which is Latin, Plus esse, quam simultatur translates to Hellere at være, end at synes (“Rather to be, than to seem”) in Danish, meaning that the soldier’s capabilities do not have to be widely recognized or boasted—they are only more effective if unknown.

The Danish Frogman Corps (Danish: Frømandskorpset) is the maritime special operations force of the Danish Defence part of Special Operations Command. On 1 July 2015, the Frogman Corps transferred from the Royal Danish Navy to the newly established Special Operations Command.

Frømandskorpset

The Frogman Corps was establised on 17 June 1957 based on the model of the United Kingdom Royal Marines Special Boat Service. Initially it was under the Danish Navy’s Diving School at Flådestation Holmen (Naval Station Holmen, Copenhagen), but in 1972 it was made an independent unit, operationally under the submarine squadron.

The Frogman Corps primary role is reconnaissance, but it is also tasked with assaulting enemy ships, sabotage of fixed installations, advanced force and maritime anti-terrorism tasks.

It performs special operations work on land also, including anti-terrorism and anti-criminal work. The Corps supports the police with clearing up criminal matters that demand highly specialised diving. Also, local authorities, etc. can benefit from the frogman’s skills, for example when underwater installations must be inspected.

Denmark’s Fromandskorpset (Frogman Corps)

The Frogman Corps trains at the Torpedo Station at Kongsøre and works through a long series of courses, e.g.:

  • Combat swimmer course for three weeks
  • Advanced scuba diving course
  • Rescue swimmer course
  • Survival course

The basic Frogman Course is nine months. Each year 500-600 applicants start the course and less than a dozen complete all nine months. Since its creation in 1957, 311 have completed the training, and become a Frogman.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark passed selection and completed continuation training to become a badged Frogman, in the course of which he earnt the nickname “Pingo”.

In 2015, a DR-produced documentary detailing the life of Frogman cadets was released.

The Frogman Corps was involved in operations in Afghanistan such as Task Force K-Bar and in Iraq.

From 2008 until the end of 2014, the Frogman Corps was involved in counter-piracy operations as part of Operation Ocean Shield. On 5 February 2010, ten Frogman Corps aboard HDMS Absalon (L16) conducted a counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden approaching the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged merchant vessel Ariella by rigid hull inflatable boat which had been hijacked by six armed Somali pirates. They scaled the side of the ship and freed the 25 crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room, and continued to search the vessel for the pirates who had however fled.

Armament

Type Caliber Manufacturer Model Danish designation
Pistol 9mm Glock Glock 26 Glock 26
Pistol 9mm Heckler & Koch USP H&K USP
Pistol 9mm SIG SIG Sauer P210 Neuhausen M/49
Pistol 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, .45 ACP STI Tactical 5.0 STI Tactical
Submachinegun 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 MP5
Carbine 5.56 Heckler & Koch G53 M85
Rifle 5.56 Diemaco C8 CQB M/96
Rifle 5.56 Diemaco C8 SFW M/95
Light Support Weapon 5.56 Diemaco LSW M/04 LSV M/04
Machinegun 5.56 Heckler & Koch 23 E MG85
Machinegun 7.62 Rheinmetall MG3 LMG M/62
Machinegun 7.62 Heckler & Koch 21 E H&K 21 E
Sniper 7.62 Heckler & Koch MSG-90 MSG-90