The Full Wiki

Royal Danish Navy: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Royal Danish Navy

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal Danish Navy
Logo of the "Søværnet"
Founded 1510 (1401)
Country  Denmark
Size 3,400 personnel + 200 conscripts[1]
16 ships, 28 vessels and 30 boats[2]
Part of Military of Denmark
Engagements Swedish War of Liberation (1510-23)
Count's Feud (1534-36)
Nordic Seven Years' War (1563-70)
Kalmar War (1611-13)
Torstenson War (1643-45)
Second Nordic War (1657-60)
Scanian War (1675-79)
Great Nordic War (1700 & 1709-20)
Battle of Copenhagen (1801)
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
Gunboat War (1807-14)
First Schleswig War (1848-51)
Second Schleswig War (1864)
Operation Desert Shield (1990-91)
Operation Sharp Guard (1993-96)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003)
Combined Task Force 150 (2008- )
acting Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Bjørn Ingemann Bisserup
Chief of Admiral Danish Fleet Rear Admiral Nils Christian Wang
Peter Tordenskjold
FIAV 000001.svg Flag of the Royal Danish Navy. Ratio: 56:107 Naval Ensign of Denmark.svg

The Royal Danish Navy (RDN) (officially Kongelige Danske Marine in Danish but commonly Søværnet (literally 'Sea Defence')) is the sea-based branch of the Danish Defence force. The RDN is mainly responsible for the maritime defence and sovereignty of Danish, Greenlandic and Faroese territorial waters. Other tasks includes surveillance, search and rescue, icebreaking, oil spill recovery and prevention as well as contributions to international tasks and forces.

During the period 1509-1814 when Denmark was in union with Norway, the Danish Navy was part of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy. Today the Danish navy is very modern and most of the large ships were commissioned in the post-Cold War era. The Danish navy has some relatively large ships in the fleet, despite the smallness of the country, primarily due to its strategic maritime location as the NATO member controlling access to the Baltic.

Danish Navy ships carry the prefix KDM (Kongelige Danske Marine) in Danish, but is translated to HDMS (Her / His Danish Majesty's Ship) in English.

Currently, the Danish Navy is one of the several navies of NATO member states that do not deploy any submarines.


History of the Danish navy

The geographic layout of Denmark (Denmark, not including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, has a coastline/land area ratio of 1:5.9, comparably Netherlands' is 1:92.1 and USA's is 1:493.2[3]) and because of that long standing maritime traditions, dating back to the early Vikings of the 9th century. The Vikings had small but organised fleets. Usually they were based from single or few villages. In the latter, the villages usually had a common defence pact, similar to the modern NATO's article 5. These viking ships, where the so-called Knarr version. They were light and thus easy to transport from village to village by land. These defence pacts, later evolved into the more known and offensive fleets, with which the Vikings plundered and raped along coastal areas. In the period after the Vikings and up to the 15th century, the fleet was mainly scribed merchant vessels. As such, king Valdemar Sejr should have had more than 1,000 ships, during the conquest of Estonia in 1219. These ships carried more than 30,000 soldiers with horses and supplies.

There exist recordings of a unified Danish navy from the late 14th century. Queen Margaret I, whom had just founded the Kalmar Union (consisting of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Shetland, Orkney) and some of Finland and parts of Germany) instituted the build of a navy - mainly to defend the union against the Hanseatic League. Earlier the navy consisted of vessels owned and operated by the nobility, but the country as such, didn't have a navy. Thus the earlier monarchs had to rely on conscriptions from the nobility, which wasn't always easy as the monarchs tended to have enemies among their own nobility as well. Queen Margaret I ordered the build of a navy as the monarchs property. The nobility still had to provide crews (which was mainly "volunteered" farmers) for these ships, though the core crew-members (i.e. masters, master-at-arms and master carpenters) could be employed by the monarch. The education of as well officers (which was mainly draugt among the nobility) as enlisted personnel was on a mentor/tutor-basis.

In the 15th century, especially during King Hans's period – the Danish trade expands largely and sequentially also the need for transport of goods. The sea was the ideal choice for this at that time and thus the need for protection of Danish maritime interests (which de facto was the monarchs sovereignty) was heightened. King Hans is credited with establishing the Common Fleet in 1509. The number of professional crewmembers is expanded at large. These professional crewmembers were mainly petty criminals, which would have to choice between working in the king’s navy or imprisonment. They got a naval, maritime and carpentry basic training and would mainly sail the ships. The weapons and fighting tasks were still carried out by conscripted farmers. For the latter, the country was divided into a number of counties - known in Danish as skipæn (the term skip being closely to the Danish word for ship, skib), which would later serve as the Danish dioceses. It was also during this period dedicated naval bases and yards was founded. These would build, maintain and fit the king’s navy. The first record of a dedicated naval base is Bremerholmd (later Gammelholm) in the year 1500.

When King Frederick II was crowned in 1559, he immediately begun expanding the navy further. Both the number of bases, yards and vessels rose fast, as well as large resources was used in creating new ships designs, weapon designs, training and battle tactics. Sweden, which had become an independent country, dominated a large part of the Baltic Sea and threatened the Danish merchant interests. As a retaliation Denmark closed Øresund in 1568 and laid the first seeds to the Scanian War (1675-1679), only 8 years after the end of the second Nordic War (1657-1660). During the latter Denmark lost the now Swedish provinces Skåne, Halland and Blekinge, which caused further resources being directed to the navy. It was also in this period, Cort Adler og Niels Juel led the Danish navy to a victory in the Battle of Køge Bay in 1667.

King Christian IV (crowned in 1588) continued in his fathers footsteps. In the beginning of the 17th century he expanded the naval workships at large. In Copenhagen, where the navy resided, he build a large amount of homes, available to the crewmembers and workshop craftsmen - most famous Nyboder (completed in 1631) which still stands in central Copenhagen.

General-admirallieutenant Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve was made the navys supreme commander in 1701. He started a large professionalizing process, amongst also the initiative to the Søkadetakademie, the predecessor of the Royal Danish Naval Academy. In 1709 Peter Jansen Wessel joined the navy. This man was later made admiral and nobled as a reward for the many victories - most famously at Marstrand and Dynekilden, to which he led the navy. He was also later known as Tordenskjold.

Dronning Juliane Marie
approx. 1750

Tordenskjold had success with an operation in 1712, where he managed to burn down 80 Swedish naval cruisers. This played a large part in the outcome of the Great Nordic War (1709-1720). Since Scandinavia now was at peace, the navy focused its resources on other parts of the world, resulting in colonisation of Africa and the Caribbean, as well as placing a permanent naval force in the Mediterranean Sea, to protect Danish interests (mainly merchant vessels and colonies). At the same time a pact of neutrality was made between Denmark (including Norway) and Sweden, making a solid base for commercial expansion.

The British, under pressure from the French in the Napoleonic Wars, became more and more reluctant to accept the aspiring Danish trade, as the saw the Danish commerce was a financial factor for Napoleon. In 1801 they then decided to attack a Danish line of defence, in the Battle of Copenhagen, under the command of Admiral Hyde Parker.The defence line, under command of Olfert Fischer, wasn't remotely equal to the attacking force and was easily subdued. Denmark was thus, forced to made an agreement with the British. In the following six years, Denmark managed to stay clear of the Napoleonic Wars, until the British engaged in the second Battle of Copenhagen in 1807. This battle was initiated, because King Christian VII refused to hand over his navy to the British for safekeeping until the end of the war, Britain was afraid that the Danish fleet might fall under the control of Napoleon and perhaps tip the naval balance in Napoleons favour. It was also during this war, the famous Bombardment of Copenhagen (from 2 September to 5 September) took place under Admiral Gambier; this is generally accepted as the first terror bombardment[4], in which terror of civilians was used to gain a political goal.

In the year 1814, Denmark and Norway was separated relatively peacefully, after more than 300 years together. At the same time the Common Fleet was split into the Royal Danish Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy.

The Danish submarine "Havmanden" circa World War One

The navy was slowly rebuilt, but it was nowhere near the old in size. A lot of ambitions and faith was placed in the navy though and the far interests (Africa and Caribbean) still received a lot of attention. In 1845 a two-year research expedition was launched on the corvette Galathea. In the Second Schleswig War (1864) the navy was still relatively small and old-fashioned. Only a few steam vessels were at hand and these had a large impact on the war. Sequentially a modernisation of the navy was deemed necessary and by the outbreak of World War I (1914) the Danish navy was a very modern fleet, mainly equipped with armoured steam ships and only a very few sailing ships.

In the period between the two world wars, the Danish navy (as well as the rest of the Danish military forces) had very low priority among the politicians - especially during the period 1929-1942 during the reign of Thorvald Stauning. During the first year of the German occupation (1940-1945) the navy, assisted the occupying German forces with minesweeping, because of the political demand of keeping the infrastructure (ferry-lines) up and running. The tensions between the German soldiers and the Danish armed forces rose slowly and on 29 August 1943, the managed to scuttle 32 of its larger ships, while Germany succeeded in seizing 14 of the larger and 50 of the smaller vessels. This was due to a secret order, given directly in mouth to the captains, by then commander of the navy, Vice Admiral A. H. Vedel "to try to flee to nearest neutral or nazi-opposed port. If that was not possible the ship should be scuttled at as deep a location as possible". The Germans later succeeded in raising and refitting 15 of the sunken ships. During the scuttling of the Danish fleet, a number of vessels were ordered to attempt an escape to Swedish waters, and 13 vessels succeeded in this attempt, four of which were larger ships.[5][6] The score was thus for the larger vessels: 32 vessels were sunk, 2 were at Greenland, 4 reached Sweden, 14 were captured by the Germans and for the smaller vessels: 9 "patruljekuttere" reached Sweden, 50 others were captured by the Germans[6]. By the autumn of 1944, these ships officially formed a Danish naval flotilla in exile.[7] A. H. Vedel was fired on order by prime minister Vilhelm Buhl in September 1943, because of his hostile actions towards the Germans. In November 1943, Swedish authorities allowed 500 Danish soldiers in Sweden to train themselves as "police troops". By the autumn of 1944, Sweden raised this number to 4,800 and recognised the entire unit as a Danish military brigade in exile.

In the post-war years, Denmark joined NATO in 1949. Because of this, Denmark received large amounts of material and economic support through the Marshall Plan. Furthermore several ships was purchased from the British and a number of vessels was transferred from the now disarmed German navy.

Danish FAC Sehested (Willemoes-class)
Carrying Harpoon-missiles and FFV Type 613 21" torpedoes. Top-speed 45 kn.

During the Cold War the Danish navy was rebuilt and modernised, with the main task to repel an invasion from the Warsaw Pact. The typical operations that were trained was minelaying (the now disbanded minelayers of the Falster-class (17 kn, 2,000 GRT), was the worlds largest minelayers at their time - each had a complement of 280 900 kg mines) and sting attacks with small but fast attack crafts (such as the Søløven-class torpedo boats (54 kn, 158 GRT) and Willemoes-class missile torpedo boats (45 kn, 260 GRT). The Danish intelligence capabilities was also expanded and the Danish submarines trained for very shallow water operations, while a navy special force - the Danish Frogman Corps was created. The naval bases in Frederikshavn and Korsør plus the fortresses at Langeland and Stevns were created through NATO funds in the 1950s.

Since the end of the Cold War, the navy has been in a transition phase, from local defence to global operations, with fewer but larger vessels, that can operate in long periods at sea and is more self-sustaining. The defence agreement 1995-1999 initiated this process. With this agreement several of the old "cold war" vessels were decommissioned: Frigates and minesweepers. The squadron structure prior to this defence agreement was as following:

  • 1st Squadron = The North Atlantic Squadron (Danish: 'InspektionsSkibsEskadren' (ISE)) with 5 ocean patrol vessels (1 Beskytteren-class, 4 Thetis-class), 3 ocean patrol cutters (Agdlek-class) and 4 icebreakers
  • 2nd Squadron = The Frigate Squadron (Danish: 'FreGatEskadren' (FGE)) with 2 frigates (Peder Skram-class), 3 corvettes (Niels Juel-class), 14 StanFlex-vessels (Flyvefisken-class) and 6 seaward defence craft (Daphne-class, decommissioned in 1991)
  • 3rd Squadron = The Mine Squadron (Danish: 'MineSkibsEskadren' (MSE)) with 4 minelayers (Falster-class), 2 cable-minelayers (Lindormen-class) and 7 minesweepers (Sund-class, decommissioned in 1999)
  • 4th Squadron = The Torpedoboat Squadron (Danish: 'TorpedoBådsEskadren' (TBE)) with 13 torpedo-/missilboats (8 Willemoes-class, 5 Søløven-class), 2 oilers (Faxe-class) and a truck-detachment with missiles and radars called MOBA
  • 5th Squadron = The Submarine Squadron (Danish: 'UndervandsBådsEskadren' (UBE)) with 6 submarines (3 Tumleren-class, 3 Springeren-class) and the Frogmans Corps
Støren (P555)
A danish navy diver is being pre-dive checked by US navy personnel, during Sea Breeze 2008

In the defence agreement 2000-2004 another restructuring of the navy was ordered, as well as the decommissioning of several units. Furthermore the only unit of Beskytteren-class was donated to the Estonian Navy as Admiral Pitka (A230). The navy now looked like this:

With the decommissioning of the torpedo boats, the 4th squadron was disbanded and the remnants were transferred to 2nd squadron. Other units were also decommissioned. The Squadron structure now looked like this:

  • 1st Squadron with 4 ocean patrol vessels (Thetis-class), 3 ocean patrol cutters (Agdlek-class) and 3 icebreakers
  • 2nd Squadron with 3 corvettes (Niels Juel-class), 14 StanFlex-vessels (Flyvefisken-class), 2 oilers (Faxe-class) and a truck-detachment with missiles and radars called MOBA and a new truck-unit MLOG with shops, spare parts, mechanics etc.
  • 3rd Squadron = The Mine Squadron (Danish: 'MineSkibsEskadren' (MSE)) with 4 minelayers (Falster-class) and 2 cable-minelayers (Lindormen-class)
  • 5th Squadron = The Submarine Squadron (Danish: 'UndervandsBådsEskadren' (UBE)) with 4 submarines (3 Tumleren-class, 1 Kronbrog-class - leased Swedish Näcken-class) and the Frogmans Corps

On 1 January 2006 a major reorganisation was made, as a part of the defence agreement 2005-2009 (which also put an end to the 95 year old submarine service), when the former four squadrons – divided by ships classifications – were divided into two squadrons:[8]

  • 1st Squadron - domestic affairs squadron
  • 2nd Squadron - foreign affairs squadron

Danish Navy organisation[9]


Admiral Danish Fleet

The Admiral Danish Fleet (in Danish Søværnets Operative Kommando), lead by a Rear Admiral, is directly responsible to the Danish Defence Command.

The squadrons

The Danish fleet today is divided into two squadrons:

Naval Operational Logistic Support

Naval Base Frederikshavn

The Naval Operational Logistic Support Structure (OPLOG), including the naval bases in Frederikshavn and Korsør as well as several naval stations.

Naval bases

The naval bases' tasks is to provide logistic support for the ships and vessels, through the OPLOGs. This includes configuration, maintaining and repairing the units. Furthermore similar support is provided to civilian agencies (i.e. the Danish police) and allied units.

The support is mainly provided within the naval bases geographical areas. For Naval Base Korsør that is Zealand, Funen, Bornholm as well as the surrounding waters. For Naval Base Frederikshavn it is Jutland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Furthermore a general support is provided for units participating in international operations in peacetime, as well as all units in crisis and wartime.

Naval stations

The navy maintains a number of naval stations. These are smaller stations with limited support functions. The most known is the public accessible Naval Station Holmen in Copenhagen. Furthermore naval stations are located in Esbjerg, Kongsøre, on Møn, in Århus and Lyngsbæk.

Naval Air Squadron

The Danish Naval Air Squadron operates and maintains the navy's 8 Westland Lynx helicopters.

Special forces units

A visit, board, search and seizure team, mainly composed of personel from the Frogman Corps, entering USS Vella Gulf

The navy operates two special operation units.

The Frogmen Corps

The Frogmen Corps (Danish: Frømandskorpset) is an elite special force unit with the tasks of reconnaissance, assaulting enemy ships, sabotage of fixed installations as well as anti-terrorism work with the police.

Sirius Arctic Patrol

The Sirius Arctic Patrol is a special forces unit and dog sled patrol conducting long-range reconnaissance (LRRP) and enforcing Danish sovereignty as well as representing Denmark's military presence in Greenland.

Danish Task Group

The Danish Task Group is a mobile unit that is experienced in orchestrating exercises, organising insertions (search and rescue, non-combatant evacuation, disaster relief operations etc.) and commanding naval, aerial and land-based units. It is composed of personnel from the Danish army, navy, air force and foreign ministry.

The naval school structure

Runs three main schools, with five special schools:

  • Naval NCO and Basic Training School (Danish: Søværnets Sergent- og Grundskole (SSG)) near Frederikshavn
  • Danish naval academy (Danish: Søværnets Officersskole) on Holmen
  • naval specialist schools (Danish: Søværnets specialskoler):
    • Naval Warfare School (Danish: Søværnets Taktikkursus (TAK)) at Naval Base Frederikshavn and Holmen
    • Naval Weapons School (Danish: Artilleriskolen Sjællands Odde (ASO)) on Sjællands Odde
    • Naval Technical School (Danish: Søværnets Teknikkursus (TEK)) on Holmen
    • Naval Damage Control School (Danish: Søværnets Havarikursus (SHK)) near Frederikshavn
    • Naval Diving School (Danish: Søværnets Dykkerkursus (SDK)) on Holmen

International operations

F360 Hvidbjørnen beside HMS Chatham and USS Cape St. George during international exercise BALTOPS
US Coast Guard cutter Tiger Shark pulls alongside F359 Vædderen during a damage control exercise

The contemporary Danish navy, has participated in the following international operations:

Year Operation Participating units
1990-91 Operation Desert Shield F355 Olfert Fischer (Niels Juel-class)
1993-96 Operation Sharp Guard F354 Niels Juel (Niels Juel-class)
1999 Operation Allied Harvest N43 Lindormen (Lindormen-class)
29 November 2002 - 4 March 2003 Prestige Cleanup A561 Gunnar Seidenfaden (Gunnar Thorson-class)
2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom S323 Sælen (Tumleren-class), F355 Olfert Fischer (Niels Juel-class)
2006-08 United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) P557 Glenten, P560 Ravnen (Flyvefisken-class), F356 Peter Tordenskiold (Niels Juel-class)
2007 Standing NRF Maritime Group 1 F355 Olfert Fischer (Niels Juel-class)
2008 WFP protection force at the Horn of Africa F357 Thetis (Thetis-class)
2008 Task Force 150 Danish Task Group and L16 Absalon (Absalon-class)
2009 Task Force 151 L16 Absalon (Absalon-class)


Vædderen (F359)

The Danish navy currently operates 12 larger vessels (displacement > 1,500 t(m)), 4 medium-size vessels (1,500 t(m) > displacement > 500 t(m)) and 38 small vessels (500 t(m) > displacement > 15 t(m)) as well as a number of rigid-hulled inflatable boats, boats etc.

The navy ships programs is generally a "newer but fewer"-programs. Many of the vessels are of newer dates (Absalon-class from 2004-2005, Thetis-class from 1991-1994 and Flyvefisken-class from 1986-1995) or under replacement, i.e. the corvettes of the Niels Juel-class (1978-1980) are under replacement with three new Ivar Huitfeldt-class Frigates currently under construction for 2nd Squadron and the Barsø-class (1969-1973) will be replaced with 6 Diana-class small patrol crafts. Finally two of the three Agdlek-class (1973-1979) will be replaced with the new Knud Rasmussen-class vessels.

Aerial vehicles

The Royal Danish Navy operates 8 Westland SuperLynx Mk.90B (upgraded from Mk.23, Mk.80 & Mk.90) helicopters: S-134, S-142, S-170, S-175, S-181, S-191, S-249 & S-256. Helicopters S-035, S-187 and S-196 are decommissioned. S-035 (ex. G-BFDT and 3-H-41), S-249 (ex. G-BKBL and 3-H-43) and S-256 (ex. G-17-11 and 3-H-44) were originally built as Mk.23 version for the Argentine Navy,[10] but were hit with an embargo when the Falklands War erupted and sold off to Denmark. S-035 never flew in the Danish Navy but it participated in the Falklands War as 3-H-41 (embarked on ARA Hércules). It is cut in two and the cockpit is used for tactical observer's simulator and the cabin is used for helicopter egress training by Danish special forces. The original 8 serials were S-134, S-142, S-170, S-175, S-181, S-187, S-191 and S-196, purchased as Mk.80-versions.[11] S-170 hit the ground at a public display in Góraszka, Poland 1997-06-14 but was rebuild. S-187 was lost near Vágar Airport (1987-02-20) and S-196 in the Baltic Sea (1985-08-14).[12]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[13] Pennant letters
Westland Lynx  United Kingdom naval helicopter Super Lynx Mk 90B 8 S-134, S-142, S-170, S-175, S-181, S-191, S-249 & S-256

Ranks and insignia

The Danish navy ranks follows the NATO system of ranks and insignia, as does the rest of the Danish armed forces.

The highest officers ranks available is the OF-9 (Admiral) which is reserved for the Chief of Defence (only when this seat is occupied by a naval officer) and the Prince Consort of Denmark (à la suite). In a similar way the OF-8 (Vice-admiral) is reserved for the Defence Chief of Staff). OF-7 (Kontreadmiral) is used by the Admiral Danish Fleet and OF-6 (Flotilleadmiral) by the chief of Danish Task Group as well as keepers of high-office positions. OF-4 and OF-5 are mainly chiefs of squadrons, schools and larger vessels. OF-1 through OF-3 are used in a variety of positions.

The Danish OR's follows the NATO system in a similar way, though no OR-6 exists and OR-4's (korporal) are only used in international missions.

Out-side this ranking systems are physicians (whom may wear the same insignia in the Army/Air Force but with a slight variation in the Navy), nurses and veterinarians, while priests and judicial personnel wears totally different insignia and is outside ranks.

Besides the NATO-system, the Danish defence utilizes its own system, which comes to the following for the navy:

  • Military personnel, level 400 (M400): Executive level: OF-5 though OF-9
  • Military personnel, level 300 (M300): Operational level: OF-1 through OF-4
  • Military personnel, level 200 (M200): NCO level: OR-4 through OR-9
  • Military personnel, level 100 (M100): Seamen level: OR-1 through OR-3


  1. ^ "The Danish Defence Agreement 2005 - 2009 - Navy". Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  2. ^ "Equipment used in the Navy". Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  3. ^ "CIA: The World Factbook". Retrieved 2008-07-20.  
  4. ^ Defying Napoleon: How Britain Bombarded Copenhagen and Seized the Danish Fleet in 1807 (07 edition (13 Mar 2007) ed.). The History Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0750942799.  
  5. ^ "Danish Naval Historical Time Line: August". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  6. ^ a b "Danish Navy left without any military options". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  7. ^ "Den danske Flotille 1944-1945" (in Danish). Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  8. ^ "Materiel i Søværnet" (in Danish). Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  9. ^ "Royal Danish Navy organisation".  
  10. ^ "Demobbed Aircraft: Lynx". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  11. ^ "søværnets helikoptere s-035 og s-196" (in Danish). Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  12. ^ "Lynx inventory". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  13. ^ Fred Bloggs (2007-01-15), Aviation Week & Space Technology: "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, McGraw-Hill  
    Aviation Week is wrong. S-170 crashed in Poland in 1997. A replacement airframe (S-170) was built by Westland. Aviation Week still has 7 airframes in their database.

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address