Fregatten Esbern Snare afgået til task group 441.01

The frigate Esbern Snare has set sails and left Naval Station Frederikshavn. Photo: Esbern Snare / Danish Defence

By Defence Command Denmark


The frigate Esbern Snare leaves Naval Base Frederikshavn on Monday September 12 and sets course for southern Europe. The frigate and its crew of approx. 140 is deployed until mid-December in NATO's Task Group 441.01, which is part of NATO's standing forces on high readiness - NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).


With the deployment of Esbern Snare, Denmark is contributing to NATO's heightened preparedness, which is a reaction to Russia's attack on Ukraine and aggressive tone towards its European neighbours. The deployment of the Danish warship contributes to NATO having the required capabilities available to deter potential enemies from attacking Denmark or other NATO countries and, if necessary, to defend NATO's territory.


"The tasks are similar to those that we have solved in NATOs standing naval forces earlier. We show NATO's presence, we demonstrate NATO's unity and we train together. In addition, if we are called upon, we are ready for immediate deployment as NATO's rapid reaction force – VJTF. What differs from before is that the Danish Parliament has given us a relatively robust mandate to NATO's maritime command in Europe. It means that we are not the only ones obliged to defend ourselves if attacked, but immediately can defend others and the territory of other NATO countries as well," explains the commander Lars Povl Jensen, who is the commanding officer of Esbern Snare.


The frigate Esbern Snare is a modern and powerful warship that. With its high-tech sensors and weapons, the frigate is ready to face all types of threats. While deployed in Task Group 441.01, Esbern Snare is equipped for self-defence and defence of the rest of the fleet. During parts of the mission, the frigate has a Seahawk helicopter on board. It increases the range of the naval force and enables it to monitor large areas.


Task Group 441.01 can operate where NATO wants it. Immediately, the plan is that, during the term in which Esbern Snare is part of the group, the naval force will initially sail towards southern Europe to participate in an exercise off Portugal, then the force will participate in the Joint Warrior exercise in the English Channel before the task group sails into the Baltic Sea.


"When we enter the Baltic Sea, we must expect to be visited by Russian aircraft. This has also been the case in the past. We are of course ready to defend ourselves, but we are not on a mission to do anything to anyone. We are there to defend NATO," emphasizes Lars Povl Jensen.


Although the deployment will, probably in many ways be reminiscent of something Lars Povl Jensen and the crew of the Esbern Snare have tried with NATO's naval forces in the past, the Commanding Captain points to a significant positive difference.


"We are making an extra contribution to the naval force this year, and Denmark is not the only nation making an extra contribution. This means that the force has a size, which makes it more exciting to participate than it has been for many years. With the size of the force, we can practice ourselves if there are no exercises that we can attend. Additionally the naval force has a size that allows us to attract the resources in the form of aircraft and other resources that are needed to generate really good exercises. This means that this deployment of 12-13 weeks will be a positive contribution the crew’s training and preparedness," says Lars Povl Jensen.


From October 2021 to February 2022, Esbern Snare was deployed in an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa. Due to the deterioration of the security situation  in Europe, the frigate was withdrawn earlier than planned and set on high alert in NATO's naval forces. From January to April 2022, the frigate Peter Willemoes was deployed in NATO's standing naval forces.