Modern Day Greenland Patrol

When talking over the weekend in reference to the 80th anniversary of the lost USCGC Natsek (WYP-170) during WWII’s massively unsung Greenland Patrol, these images from the Danish Arktisk Kommando— their all-services joint Arctic command that interfaces both with NATO and the U.S., Icelandic, Canadian and UK forces in the region stretching across the Faeroes and Greenland– seems timely.

The below shows the new Rasmussen-class patrol vessels HDMS Knud Rasmussen (P570), HDMS Ejnar Mikkelsen (P571), and HDMS Lauge Koch (P572) of 1. Eskadre working the Greenland coastline for the last couple of weeks.

The Danes throughout the Cold War kept a trio of purpose-designed ice-strengthened arctic offshore patrol craft in the region and continue to do so, rotating Royal Danish Navy vessels deployed to Greenland to perform coast-guard duties, while an intrepid 14-man Siriuspatruljen (sled patrol) polices the interior, with the benefit of air-dropped supplies.

The Rasmussens replaced the trio of much smaller (300-ton, 11 knots, 2x.50 cal HMGs) Agdlek-class patrol boats that walked the beat from the 1970s through 2017.

The old Agdlek-class OPVs, exemplified by the HDMS Tulugaq (Y388) seen here, were essentially modified steel-hulled trawler/whaler types, mounting just a pair of .50 cal Brownings

The new 1,700-ton 235-foot vessels are much more capable– not to mention downright naval-looking– with a 76mm M/85 OTO Melera main battery, embarked helicopter/UAV support, and space/weight available for both ASW torpedo tubes and Sea Sparrow missiles.

While low-speed (just 17 knots maximum speed) they are meant to poke around and, with their two large RIBs, send VBSS inspection teams out to check on things both ashore and afloat. Speaking to the latter, they are manned by just an 18-person crew but have accommodations for an embarked helicopter det and a small (16-man) platoon of commando types, of which Denmark has a proficient group.

And, of course, there are some other benefits of walking the Greenland beat, such as plenty of ice for your New Year’s drinks!

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