Comparisons – NATO Allies –
Current Danish Naval Projects – May 2008
An Overview of Current, On-Going Danish Naval projects
Absalon class Command and Support Ship (CSS / Transport Frigate)
Danish Navy Multi-Use Transport Ships –
Absalon class (HDMS Absalon & Esbern Snare)
The Absalon class have been variously described as combat support ships or even as transport frigates.
In Danish service, the Absalon class are termed Kommandostøtteskib or Command and Support ships.
The Absalons were jointly conceived by the Danish Navy (specifically, the KDM Søværnets
Materielkommando) and the Odense Lindø Shipyard (Odense Staalskibsværft, a part of the
AP Møller Group). The contract was signed with the Odense Lindø in November of
Construction of the first Absalon hull began in May of 2003. The first ship was delivered in June
2004 and named Absalon
(founder of Copenhagen) by HM Queen Margrethe II. The ship
was ready to sail but not yet fitted with all of its military hardware – although the ship was
already equipped with its BAE 127mm main gun. HDMS Absalon then went to a naval base for its
first fit of government-supplied naval hardware. After its initial fitting out, the new ship was sent
out into the Atlantic for two months of sea trials including climatic tests. Absalon travelled
south of the equator before turning west towards North America, visiting Norfolk, Baltimore, and
then Halifax (arriving 28 October 2005).
Upon the ship's return to Denmark, KDM personnel installed and tested the remaining hardware, cables, electronic
units, etc. All ship tests are now complete and Absalon has been declared fully operational. She will join
Combined Task Force 150, the multinational maritime security operation in the Indian Ocean, in August 2008.
The second ship in the class, HDMS Esbern Snare (named after the brother of Absalon, Esbern the Resolute),
has already undergone sea trials and partici- pated in NATO exercises. She will most likely be declared operational
during the autumn 2008.
Both Absalon (L16) and Esbern Snare (L17) have been active for some time. However,
both vessels were delivered without their complete systems for reasons of economy. The full weapons and sensor
suites have now been installed and containerized hospitals are being completed. So, what
exactly are the Absalon class? Similar in size and armament to
a modern frigate, Absalon
lacks the sensors to meet that standard. Instead, the Absalon class have Roll- On, Roll-Off ramps and
interior space for vehicles.
The Absalons have 900 square metres (240 lane-metres)
of multi-use interior space. Measuring 84m x 10.9m x
5m, this so-called "flex-deck" would normally carry military vehicles. Using the RO/RO ramp which
extends from the stern, vehicles as heavy as the 62-ton Leopard 2A5 DK main battle tank (right), can be embarked. The capacity
cargo deck is around 450 t. Along with vehicular cargo, the containerized hospital and extra living quarter
modules for troops can also accommodated on this deck.
The door for the RO/RO ramp is on the starboard side of the transom. On the port side is another door for two
fast landing craft and their retractable launch/recovery gantry. These waterjet-propelled LCP-class
landing craft can hit
40 knots and have a range of 200 nm (370 km). The LCPs have crews of
2-3 and can carry 10 fully-equipped troops
or 4 stretcher cases. LCPs are based on a Swedish design but are
basically crew boats.  When not needed, both LCPs are stored in a bay beside the vehicle loading
Above the vehicle deck and LCP bay is an 850 square metre helicopter landing deck. This deck can accommodate
20-t helicopters (including Chinooks) but was sized
specifically for two EH-101s (the KDM has 4 EH-101s on order for the
Absalon class) as were the twin-bay hangars.
When helicopters are not in use (or weren't embarked) the landing
deck serves as further vehicle parking space and container storage.
The Absalon class was designed to accommodate up to 200 soldiers (a company-sized force with a command
staff). Living quarters or a hospital module can be fitted on the RO-RO deck in a day.
The armament for the Absalon class follows the Danish Standard Flex approach but the guns are
permanently mounted. The main gun is the US 5" (127mm) Mk 45 Mod 4 by BAE Systems (United Defense) which was
installed at the shipyard. The Mk 45 Mod 4
is the largest calibre gun fitted to any Danish warship
 and for good reason. The Absalon class gun must be able to engage land targets. To do that, a
127mm gun was chosen for the weight of its shell – up to 32 kg compared with only 6 kg for the
76mm/62 gun used on most Danish ships. Range was another consideration.
Mounted later were two close-in weapons system turrets – one mounted
behind and above the main gun, the other mounted on top of the rear hangar. The CIWS are 35mm Millenium
revolver cannons by Rheinmetall (formerly Oerlikon) which can fire up to 1000 rounds per minute
At the same time as the 35mm CIWS guns were added, launchers were installed for decoys and torpedos. There
are four six-tubed Mk 36 launchers for the Seagnat / SBROC chaff decoys and two Mk 32
twin launchers for MU90 (M/04) anti-submarine torpedos. Forward of the torpedo launchers, in a sunken mid
section, there are five Standard Flex armament container slots for Harpoon  surface-to-surface
cruise missiles (16 Harpoons in two groups of paired quad cannisters) and three rows of six
vertically-launched NATO Sea Sparrow or twelve ESSM surface-to-air missiles. 
One of the reasons that the Absalon class was attainable, was a willingness to accept systems
being installed in phases. This meant a delay in acheiving full operational status but both ships were
available for limited operations in the meantime. It has also resulted in some confusion over costs. Prices as
low as 1.256 billion Kroner (Cdn $263M) have been quoted. The actual cost for the entire Absalon
class program, completely equipped, is quoted as 2.7B Kroner (Cdn $565M).
|| Absalon class Command & Support Ship
|| 6.300 tonnes
|| length 137m, beam 19.5m, draught
|| 100 crew (accommodation for up to 300
| 2 x 8,200 kW (11,000 hp) MTU
diesel engines, 2 x props, 1 x bow thruster
|| 9,000 nautical miles (10,356 mi /
|| service speed 23 knots (42.5 km/h)
| 1 x 127 mm main gun (5"/62 / M/02
2 x 35 mm CIWS (Millenium / M/04 LvSa)
16 x SSM, 3 x SAM (VLS), 4 x SAM (light),
2 x twin torpedo launchers, 7 x heavy mgs
 A third Knud Rasmussen class will probably be included in the next defence agreement (there were three
Agdlek class cutters in service although one has now been decommissioned and sold off). There is also
speculation that a fourth Knud Rasmussen class might be added to replace the Beskytteren, a 1,970-t
OPV decommissioned in 2000 and transferred to Estonia as Admiral Pitka.
 The LCPs are essentially enlarged equivalents of the CF
diver recovery boats. The design is based on the 12m Swedish SRC 90E rescue boat (hence the stretcher capability).
The SRC 90E is also used as a fast insertion boat making it suitable as a light landing craft. Hull
construction is of composite laminate (carbonfibre with vinyl ester resin). In a strengthened,
ice-resistant form, the LCP is the same boat chosen for search and rescue duties from Knud Rasmussen class OPVs.
 The retired Peder Skram class frigates had twin mount 127mm M/60 LvSa2 (US 5"/38 Mk12s).
 The Danes were relying on the steerable EX-171 Extended-Range Guided Munition to boost the gun's range
from 36 km to 117 km. Unfortunately, the ERGM was cancelled in March of 2008.
 Denmark was the first international customer for the Harpoon Block II upgrade – 50 in
2002, Canada followed in 2004. Along with anti-shipping, Block II missiles can also attack land targets.
 As with the CF, Sea Sparrows will be replaced by ESSMs (Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missiles).
Further reading: Danish Naval History (Absalon class, Absalon, Esbern Snare, CIWS, & MU90).