Flag Lowers On Danish Subs

By CHRISTOPER P. CAVAS

Defense News

Denmark is out of the submarine business.

The flag was lowered Nov. 25 in Copenhagen on the last Danish Navy submarines, bringing to an end 95 years of sub operations.

The move is part of a decision announced last June by Defense Minister Søren Gade to focus the Danish military on international expeditionary missions rather than territorial defense.

“Nobody’s really happy” about the decision to withdraw the submarines, said a Danish military source in Washington. That statement echoed Danish newspaper reports of widespread discontent among top Danish Navy officers about the decision. The Copenhagen Post quoted one retired admiral who called the decision “a scandal and an outrage,” while other officers were disgruntled that Gade did not appear at the decommissioning ceremonies.

Efforts to reach Danish Navy officials for comment were not successful by press time.

Until recently, Denmark operated a fleet of four German-designed diesel submarines. One, the Saelen, operated in the Arabian Gulf with U.S. and coalition forces during the invasion of Iraq in early 2003.

Last June, Denmark announced its decision to withdraw from the Viking submarine program, a joint Swedish-Danish venture that proposed building three or four Viking-class submarines for 9 billion kroner ($652 million).

Other Danish military cuts include a new multiple launch rocket system for the Army and a ground-based missile air defense system for the Air Force.

Additions include doubling to 2,000 the number of Danish military personnel taking part in overseas assignments.

“We are abiding by the changed security environment in Europe,” Danish Air Force Brig. Gen. Jens Autzen told Defense News earlier. “We are putting focus and emphasis on international operations and at the same time strengthening homeland defense.”

Autzen, the military attaché in Washington, said economics were at the heart of the cuts.

“One of the assumptions is that we’ll get no more money than we do at this moment,” he said. “So we had to let some things go.”

Denmark is abandoning its submarine force (Saelen-class ssk shown)