In a tight spot in the North Atlantic

The crews of the two Swedish corvettes, HMS Karlstad and HMS Nyköping, ended up in a tight spot in the cold North Atlantic when the Trident Juncture 18 exercise began.

The waves in the North Atlantic are slightly higher than the crews are used to encountering in the Baltic Sea. This is all part of the day-to-day life of our sailors, and nothing has prevented them doing their jobs. Photo: Marius Vågenes Villanger / Forsvaret
The lookouts actively keep an eye on their immediate surroundings. Photo: Alexander Gustavsson/Swedish Armed Forces
The weather is very changeable, alternating rain and sunshine. Photo: Alexander Gustavsson/Swedish Armed Forces

No matter where you look, ships and showers form rainbows intermingled with radiant sunshine. The oil rigs that rise majestically over the sea provide a reminder of where all this is happening, in one of the world’s most productive sea areas in terms of oil. This area is also the scene of the sea element of Trident Juncture, one of the biggest exercises that Sweden has ever participated in.

The exercise elements completed to date have included escorting ships under increased underwater and air threats, submarine hunting exercises and various formation exercises. The ships’ crews have also practised shooting towards land, known as ground target combat, led by a fire observer on shore. All of this has allowed the crews to prepare as much as possible prior to the unknown phase that awaits them next week.

“Integration with the foreign units has taken place quickly, largely thanks to thorough preparations and many years of effective cooperation, along with the fact that we have Swedish personnel aboard the Danish flagship, the Esbern Snare,” says Thomas Zimmerman, captain of the HMS Nyköping.

Apart from the fact that the waves are sometimes slightly higher and longer in the Norwegian waters, working at sea is not particularly different to working at home in the Baltic Sea.

“The weather affects us, of course, but we get the job done in the same way even so. Our crews keep on going despite the more severe weather conditions, with waves of up to four metres at times. Everyone has been able to get their jobs done so far.”

This is a good result for crews aboard ships that are just half the size of the ships run by their colleagues, which are SNMG1 ships belonging to one of NATO’s standing frigate forces. The corvettes are also participating for the purposes of inspection and preparation for their future participation in NATO’s NRF high readiness response force.

The crews are now looking forward to the scenario phase, the content of which is unknown. This will allow them to use more tactical behaviour so that the Visby corvettes can reach their full potential thanks to their stealth capabilities and mobility.