The Norwegian Government To Strengthen Its Armed Forces Along the Coast

The Coastal Ranger Command in the Norwegian Navy operates under all conditions in the coastal zone and is to detect, report, and analyze an opponent's capacities and intentions in the entire conflict span. Norway's government is now proposing, among other things, to upgrade the command's equipment, which will soon reach the end of its technical lifespan. (Photo: Jakob Østheim/the Norwegian Armed Forces)

The Norwegian Navy's Coastal Ranger Command, based in Northern Norway, is proposed to be upgraded and modernized at a cost of NOK 2.5 billion. "The government wants to strengthen the situational awareness and defense ability in the coastal zone," says Norway's MoD.

Norsk versjon.

The Norwegian government recently introduced a defense investment proposal to parliament, the Storting.

One of the measures suggested is strengthening the Coastal Ranger Command. This combat unit, stationed in Harstad, Northern Norway, serves as the Norwegian Navy's eyes and ears along the coast.

Forsvarsminister Bjørn Arild Gram. (Foto: Synne Nilsson/Forsvaret)
Norwegian MoD Bjørn Arild Gram (Photo: Synne Nilsson / the Norwegian Armed Forces)

"The Government wants to strengthen situational awareness and defense ability in the coastal zone. We are therefore presenting a proposal on upgrading and modernizing the Coastal Ranger Command through investments in equipment, property, and infrastructure. This includes autonomous systems and unmanned sensors and will contribute to strengthening the Armed Forces along the coast," says Norwegian MoD Bjørn Arild Gram (Center).

The Storting has previously decided that this command should be further developed with the ability to create situational awareness along the coast, deliver target data to long-range weapon systems – as well as contribute to boarding capacity under maritime surface operations. 

In line with this adopted ambition, the Government is launching a lager project to improve and renew the Coastal Ranger Command's equipment and infrastructure.

Below is an overview of the proposed investments:

New equipment

– Five new vessels to replace the current six vessels of the Stridsbåt 90N type. In the 1990s, 20 such high-speed coastal vessels were acquired from the Swedish company Dockstavarvet, and the aforementioned six were upgraded about ten years ago.

– New unmanned airborne systems of various sizes – i.e., drones.

– New boats for boarding capacity to support maritime surface operations.

– Other smaller equipment, such as sensors, command and control systems, communications, and vehicles.

The Coastal Ranger Command often operates with the Stridsbåt 90N vessel in shallow coastal waters. The government now suggests acquiring new vessels for the command for high-speed sharp turns along Norway's long coast. (Photo: the Norwegian Army)

New infrastructure

– Investments in property, buildings, and facilities (EBA) at Trondenes Camp in Harstad municipality, Northern Norway, the Command's base. The suggestions include building a new port on the Trondenes peninsula.

– Investments in buildings and facilities at Ramsund Naval Station – the Navy's main base in Northern Norway. Trondenes Camp has several support functions linked to this station, which located in Tjeldsund municipality (about a 50-minute drive from Harstad). New maintenance facilities are suggested to be added to the station.

– Ramsund Naval Station is also a Norwegian-American 'agreed area.' The base is planned to be a QRA base for Norway's new submarines, which are to be delivered in 2029, as well as a logistical hub for Norwegian, American, and other allied maritime vessels. The station will have an expanded port facility and new buildings for maintenance and operation. Ramnes exercise and firing range in Tjeldsund is also under development.

"Important expertise"

The total cost of the aforementioned acquisitions and upgrades for the Coastal Ranger Command is NOK 2.5 billion, including contingent provisions, implementation costs, and value-added tax.

"Norway is a maritime nation with large sea areas and a long coastline. Therefore, it is important to protect and strengthen the Coastal Ranger Command's capacity," Gram points out and continues:

"The Coastal Ranger Command has also been central to the Armed Forces' contribution to training Ukrainian soldiers for small boat operations. They possess important expertise, which we must support with sufficient, future-oriented equipment and facilities."

Last Thursday, the Government announced it would expedite Norway's achievement of NATO's aim of spending two percent of GDP on defense.

The Government will also announce its proposal for a new long-term plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces on Friday, April 5th.

The Coastal Ranger Command in short

– The Coastal Ranger Command (KJK) is a combat unit in the Norwegian Navy with a short reaction time. It mainly consists of professional soldiers specialized in coastal operations – both on land and at sea.

– The Command is stationed at Trondenes Camp in Harstad, Northern Norway.

– The KJK was established by the Norwegian Parliament in 2021, partly as a replacement for the Norwegian Coastal Artillery (Kystartilleriet). Then, it was staffed with 430 soldiers divided between two coastal ranger companies, light missile units, logistics, and staff.

– The Command was declared operational in 2005. By then, parts of the force had already been deployed in operations in Afghanistan.

– In 2016, the Solberg Cabinet proposed the closure of the KJK in a new long-term plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces (2017-2020). However, the Parliament decided to continue the unit, in addition to the aforementioned decision to further develop the unit.

– As of 2021, the force consisted of around 130-140 people divided between management and staff and five troops: three troops with coastal ranger operators, a vessel troop, and a support troop.

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