Royal Norwegian Navy

The Royal Norwegian Navy (Norwegian: Sjøforsvaret, "(the) sea defence") is the branch of the Norwegian Armed Forces responsible for naval operations of Norway. As of 2008, the Royal Norwegian Navy consists of approximately 3,700 personnel (9,450 in mobilized state, 32,000 when fully mobilized) and 70 vessels, including 4 heavy frigates, 6 submarines, 14 patrol boats, 4 minesweepers, 4 minehunters, 1 mine detection vessel, 4 support vessels and 2 training vessels. It also includes the Coast Guard.

Royal Norwegian Navy
Coat of arms of the Royal Norwegian Navy.svg
Coat of arms
Founded955, 1509 (not official)
April 12, 1814; 207 years ago (1814-04-12)
Country Norway
AllegianceKingdom of Norway
RoleNaval warfare
Size3,900 personnel (as of 2013; Does not include Naval Home Guard)[1]
Part ofNorwegian Armed Forces
EngagementsCivil War - King Sverre (1197)
Scottish–Norwegian War (1262-1266)[2]
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)
Action of 16 May 1797
Battle of Copenhagen (1801)
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
Gunboat War (1807–14)
First Schleswig War (1848–51)
World War II (1940–45)
Cold War (1945–90)
War on terror (2001– )
Commander in ChiefKing Harald V
Chief of the NavyRear Admiral Lars Saunes[3]
Peter Tordenskjold
Cort Adeler
Niels Juel
Lauritz Galtung
Kristoffer Throndsen
Henrik Bjelke
Pennant and Naval JackRoyal Norwegian Navy pennant.svg

Naval Jack of Norway.svg
Naval EnsignFlag of Norway, state.svg

This navy has a history dating back to 955. From 1509 to 1814, it formed part of the navy of Denmark-Norway, also referred to as the "Common Fleet". Since 1814, the Royal Norwegian Navy has again existed as a separate navy.

In Norwegian, all its naval vessels since 1946 bear ship prefix "KNM", Kongelig Norske Marine (which accurately translates to Royal Norwegian Navy/Naval vessel). In English, they are permitted still to be ascribed prefix "HNoMS", meaning "His/Her Norwegian Majesty's Ship" ("HNMS" could be also used for the Royal Netherlands Navy, for which "HNLMS" is used instead). Coast Guard vessels are given the prefix "KV" for KystVakt (Coast Guard) in Norwegian and permissibly, and less ambiguously in English, are styled "NoCGV", Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel.


The history of Norwegian state-operated naval forces is long, and goes back to the leidang which was first established by King Håkon the Good at the Gulating in 955, although variants of the Leidang had at that time already existed for hundreds of years. During the last part of the Middle Ages the system of levying of ships, equipment, and manpower for the leidang was mainly used to levying tax and existed as such into the 17th Century.

During most of the union between Norway and Denmark the two countries had a common fleet. This fleet was established by King Hans in 1509 in Denmark. A large proportion of the crew and officers in this new Navy organisation were Norwegian. In 1709 there were about 15,000 personnel enrolled in the common fleet; of these 10,000 were Norwegian. When Tordenskjold carried out his famous raid at Dynekil in 1716 more than 80 percent of the sailors and 90 percent of the soldiers in his force were Norwegian. Because of this the Royal Norwegian Navy shares its history from 1509 to 1814 with the Royal Danish Navy.

The modern, separate Royal Norwegian Navy was founded (restructured) on April 12, 1814, by Prince Christian Fredrik on the remnants of the Dano-Norwegian Navy. At the time of separation, the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy was in a poor state and Norway was left with the lesser share. All officers of Danish birth were ordered to return to Denmark and the first commander of the Norwegian navy became Captain Thomas Fasting. It then consisted of 39 officers, seven brigs (one more under construction), one schooner-brig, eight gun schooners, 46 gun chalups and 51 gun barges.[4] April 1, 1815, the Royal Norwegian Navy's leadership was reorganized into a navy ministry, and Fasting became the first navy minister.

Norway retained its independent armed forces, including the navy, during the union with Sweden. During most of the union the navy was subjected to low funding, even though there were ambitious plans to expand it. In the late 19th century, the fleet was increased to defend a possible independent Norway from her Swedish neighbours.

In 1900, just five years prior to the separation from Sweden, the navy, which was maintained for coastal defense, consisted of: two British-built coastal defence ships (HNoMS Harald Haarfagre and HNoMS Tordenskjold – each armored and displacing about 3,500 tons), four ironclad monitors, three unarmored gun vessels, twelve gunboats, sixteen small (sixty ton) gunboats, and a flotilla of twenty-seven torpedo boats.[5] These were operated by 116 active duty officers (with an additional sixty reserve) and 700 petty officers and seamen.[6]

Norway was neutral during World War I, but the armed forces were mobilised to protect Norway's neutrality. The neutrality was sorely tested – the nation's merchant fleet suffered heavy casualties to German U-boats and commerce raiders.

World War II began for the Royal Norwegian Navy on April 8, 1940, when the German torpedo boat Albatross attacked the guard ship Pol III. In the opening hours of the Battle of Narvik, the old coastal defence ships ("panserskip") HNoMS Eidsvold and HNoMS Norge, both built before 1905 and hopelessly obsolete, attempted to put up a fight against the invading German warships; both were torpedoed and sunk. The German invasion fleet heading for Oslo was significantly delayed when Oscarsborg Fortress opened fire with two of its three old 28 cm guns, followed by the 15 cm guns on Kopås on the eastern side of the Drøbak strait. The artillery pieces inflicted heavy damage on the German heavy cruiser Blücher, which was subsequently sunk by torpedoes fired from Oscarsborg's land-based torpedo battery. Blücher sank with over 1,000 casualties among its crew and soldiers aboard. The German invasion fleet – believing Blücher had struck a mine – retreated south and called for air strikes on the fortress. This delay allowed King Haakon VII of Norway and the Royal family, as well as the government, to escape capture.

Memorial to members of the Royal Norwegian Navy, Army and Merchant Marine in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the flag plaza outside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

On June 7, 1940, thirteen vessels, five aircraft and 500 men from the Royal Norwegian Navy followed the King to the United Kingdom and continued the fight from bases there until the war ended. The number of men was steadily increased as Norwegians living abroad, civilian sailors and men escaping from Norway joined the Royal Norwegian Navy. Funds from Nortraship were used to buy new ships, aircraft and equipment.

Ten ships and 1,000 men from the Royal Norwegian Navy participated in the Normandy Invasion in 1944.

During the war the navy operated 118 ships, at the end of the war it had 58 ships and 7,500 men in service. They lost 27 ships, 18 fishing boats (of the Shetland bus) and 933 men in World War II.[7]

The navy had its own air force from 1912 to 1944.

The building of a new fleet in the 1960s was made possible with substantial economic support from the United States. During the cold war, the navy was optimized for sea denial in coastal waters to make an invasion from the sea as difficult and costly as possible. With that mission in mind, the Royal Norwegian Navy consisted of a large number of small vessels and up to 15 small diesel-electric submarines. The navy is now replacing those vessels with a smaller number of larger and more capable vessels.

The Royal Norwegian Navy Museum is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Norway's naval history.

Ensign and JackEdit


Some of The Royal Norwegian Navy's bases are:


The Navy is organized into the Fleet, the Coast Guard, and the main bases.[8]

The Fleet consists of:

  • Fleet Chief Staff,
  • Frigate Branch (Fregattvåpenet),
  • Submarine Branch (Ubåtvåpenet),
  • MTB Branch (MTB-våpenet),
  • Mine Branch (Minevåpenet)
  • Logistics Branch (Logistikkvåpenet).
  • Coastal Ranger Commando (Kystjegerkommandoen)
  • Naval EOD Command (Minedykkerkommandoen)

The Naval Schools are:

  • Royal Norwegian Naval Basic Training Establishment, KNM Harald Haarfagre, Stavanger
  • Royal Norwegian Navy Officer Candidate School, Horten and Bergen
  • Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, Laksevåg, Bergen
  • Royal Norwegian Naval Training Establishment, KNM Tordenskjold, Haakonsvern, Bergen

Two of the schools of the Navy retain ship prefixes, reminiscent of Royal Navy practises.[9]

Museum: Royal Norwegian Navy Museum, Horten

Fleet units and vessels (present)Edit

Ula class submarine

Submarine BranchEdit

The submarine fleet consists of several Ula class submarines.

"Ubåtvåpenet" maintain six Ula class submarines:

The Fridtjof Nansen

Frigate BranchEdit

NOTE: These ships are generally considered destroyers by their officers and other navies due to their size and role.[10] F313 Helge Ingstad is no longer in use as a collision with an oil tanker sank the ship off the coast of Norway.

MTB BranchEdit

Skjold-class patrol boat

The Coastal Warfare fleet consists of Skjold class Corvettes.

  • Skjold (P960) Launched September 22, 1998. Commissioned April 17, 1999
  • Storm (P961) Launched November 1, 2006.
  • Skudd (P962) Launched April 30, 2007.
  • Steil (P963) Launched January 15, 2008.
  • Glimt (P964)
  • Gnist (P965)

Mine BranchEdit

HNoMS Otra and HNoMS Hinnøy
HNoMS Rauma (M352), an Alta class mine sweeper
  • Naval EOD Commando
  • Gnist (P965)
HNoMS Skrolsvik (L4520), a Combat Boat 90N

Coastal Ranger CommandEdit

  • Tactical Boat Squadron
    • Combat Boat 90N (1996)[12]
      • Trondenes
      • Skrolsvik
      • Kråkenes
      • Stangnes
      • Kjøkøy
      • Mørvika
      • Kopås
      • Tangen
      • Oddane
      • Malmøya
      • Hysnes
      • Brettingen
      • Løkhaug
      • Søviknes
      • Hellen
      • Osternes
      • Fjell
      • Lerøy
      • Torås
      • Møvik

Norwegian Naval EOD CommandoEdit

Logistics BranchEdit

  • Supply ship HNoMS Maud. Acquired in November 2018 and expected full operating capability (FOC) in autumn 2021.[13]
HNoMS Maud

Intelligence ServiceEdit

Marjata 4
NoCGV Svalbard (W303 KYSTVAKT)

Coast Guard units and vesselsEdit


Future vesselsEdit

Norway has prioritized replacing its current submarine fleet. In February 2017 the German manufacturer Thyssen Krupp was selected to deliver four new submarines, based on the Type 212-class, in around 2030 [14] to replace the Ula-class boats. A firm build contract with Thyssen Krupp was anticipated in the first half of 2020 as part of a joint program under which Norway will procure four submarines and Germany two.[15][16][17] However, as of the end of 2020 a contract had not yet been signed. In March 2021 it was indicated that an agreement had been reached between Norway and Germany to initiate the acquisition program, pending approval by the Bundestag. The contract was signed in July 2021 and construction of the first vessel is to begin in 2023.[18]Delivery of the first boat to the Royal Norwegian Navy is anticipated in 2029.[19]

The Coast Guard is to replace its existing Nordkapp-class vessels with significantly larger ice-capable ships, each displacing just under 10,000 tonnes. The three new Jan Mayen-class ships will be armed with a 57mm main gun and be capable of operating up to two NH-90 helicopters. The vessels are to enter service between 2022 and 2024. The first ship, KV Jan Mayen, was launched by the Vard Tulcea shipyard in Romania in 2021. The ships are then to be towed to the Vard Langsten shipyard in Norway for completion.[20][21]

The 2020 Norwegian defence plan envisages the replacement of the current major surface vessels "after 2030". Decisions concerning type and number of vessels are to be "made in the next planning period".[14]


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
  Royal Norwegian Navy[22]
Admiral Viseadmiral Kontreadmiral Flaggkommandør Kommandør Kommandørkaptein Orlogskaptein Kapteinløytnant Løytnant Fenrik Kadett
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
  Royal Norwegian Navy[22]
Sjefsmester Flaggmester Orlogsmester Flotiljemester Skvadronmester Senior kvartermester Kvartermester Ledende konstabel Konstabel Senior visekonstabel Visekonstabel Ledende menig Menig

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ The Military Balance 2013 (2013 ed.). International Institute for Security Studies. 14 May 2013. pp. 160–162. ISBN 978-1857436808.
  2. ^ Helle, 1995, p. 196.
  3. ^ "The Navy –". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Den norske Marine i 1814". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  5. ^ Keltie, J.S., ed. The Stateman's Year Book: Statistical and Historical Annual of the States of the World for the Year 1900. New York: MacMillan, 1900. p 1066. (Retrieved via Google Books 3/5/11.)
  6. ^ Keltie 1900, p. 1067.
  7. ^ Berg, Ole F. (1997). I skjærgården og på havet – Marinens krig 8. april 1940 – 8. mai 1945 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Marinens krigsveteranforening. p. 154. ISBN 82-993545-2-8.
  8. ^ "Navy". Norwegian Armed Forces.
  9. ^ "Fact sheet from Department of Defense". Archived from the original on 25 April 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  10. ^ "U.S. Studies Norwegians For Manning Mindset". Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Kongsberg to Supply MINESNIPER Mk III Mine Disposal Weapon System to Royal Norwegian Navy". September 20, 2013.
  12. ^ "The Royal Norwegian Navy is acquiring Navigation Equipment Package for Combat Boat 90". November 23, 2013.
  13. ^ "KNM Maud klarer ikke å utføre sin viktigste oppgave – må repareres i Nederland". 29 October 2020.
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ Sprenger, Sebastian (April 30, 2019). "German, Norwegian officials huddle over joint submarine program". Defense News.
  16. ^ "Norway Looks South in Search of Arctic-Class Submarine Builder". 8 August 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  17. ^ Tran, Pierre (8 August 2017). "Losing vendor in Norway sub deal hopes for another chance". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  18. ^ "TKMS to Build Six Type 212CD Submarines for German and Norwegian Navies". 8 July 2021.
  19. ^ "Norway's new subs especially designed for covert, shallow water operations".
  20. ^ "Here comes Norway's new ice-strengthened coast guard ship". The Independent Barents Observer.
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b "Militære grader". (in Norwegian). Norwegian Armed Forces. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.

External linksEdit