Sleek, modern and built on a budget – Denmark’s latest frigate

Danes have a well-deserved reputation for designing and building efficient, effective ships on tight budgets. In line with the government’s desire to provide meaningful contributions to coalition and expeditionary forces, their newest ships have been designed to deploy well beyond Europe.

In recent years the Danish Navy has commissioned five impressive, modern warships fitted with sophisticated command and control and sensor suites and — when they’re eventually fully fitted out — powerful armaments. First came the combat support ships Absalon and Esbern Snare. Since their commissioning in 2004 and 2005, respectively, the two have deployed a number of times, in particular serving as flagships for anti-piracy forces patrolling off Somalia.

The design of the three Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates was based on the Absalons. Commissioned between 2012 and 2014, they represent a considerable achievement, built at a cost of $325 million apiece – virtually a bargain-basement price for a modern frigate.
The design team assembled by Odense Shipyard that was responsible for the ships continues as an entity, despite the yard’s closure following delivery of the last frigate.

We had an up-close chance to see the newest ship, Nils Juel, during the ship’s visit to the US in the fall of 2014. Turned over to the Navy and commissioned only in August, the frigate is still quite new, without many of the fittings and armaments that the Danes hope to field. Yet she crossed the Atlantic to take part in Exercise Bold Alligator along the eastern seaboard with US and other foreign navies. We caught her just after the exercise concluded, riding from Norfolk to Baltimore. Here’s a look at this impressive ship.