Danish Frigate Joins U.S.-Led Red Sea Security Mission

Danish frigate
Iver Huitfeldt joined the U.S.-led secuirty mission in the Red Sea (Danish Defense)

Published Feb 13, 2024 12:39 PM by The Maritime Executive


Denmark confirmed that its frigate the Iver Huitfeldt arrived in the Red Sea at the end of last week to join the U.S.-led security mission. Unlike other members of the European Union including France, Germany, and Italy, Denmark elected to join the U.S. defensive mission Operation Prosperity Guardian.

"The situation in and around the Red Sea remains very worrying. The Houthis' attacks against international shipping have now been going on for more than two months. It is positive that the Americans have put themselves at the head of Operation Prosperity Guardian, which Denmark, as a large maritime nation, naturally supports," said Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

The Danish Parliament gave the official approval for the mission on February 6 after the second reading of the proposal. The frigate Iver Huitfeldt, commissioned in 2011 as one of three air defense frigates in the Danish armed forces, officially joined the mission on February 8 arriving in the Red Sea Danish Defense reports. The vessel had departed Denmark on January 29 in anticipation of the authorization and was in the Mediterranean preparing for the final confirmation of the mission.

"The Houthis' continuous attack on shipping has created an unsustainable situation in the Red Sea, which the Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt will contribute to solving in the coming time,” said Chief of Defense Flemming Lentfer. “This is a sharp mission where it may be necessary to use armed force in self-defense as well as in the protection of civilian ships."

According to the command, the vessel has a self-defense and extended self-defense mandate, meaning the frigate and its crew can use force to protect themselves and nearby ships from attack. It is operating with a crew of approximately 175 people and is equipped with a Seahawk helicopter. 

In addition to the vessel, Denmark is also providing a staff officer to the American-led offensive coalition. Further, with the authorization of the Parliament, the frigate will also be able to participate in a new upcoming EU-led naval operation in and around the Red Sea to strengthen maritime security. 

Danish Defense highlights that Denmark has on several occasions contributed to various efforts in the area since 2008 including the security effort to protect against Somali pirates. The Iver Huitfeldt was previously deployed on a four-month mission between August and December 2020 to the Strait of Hormuz. She was the Danish contribution to operation AGENOR as part of EMASOH (European Maritime Awareness in The Strait of Hormuz), a purely European mission created by a French initiative after the events in the Strait of Hormuz in 2019.

On that mission, the vessel was assigned to monitor and establish a maritime situational picture in the Strait of Hormuz. Danish Defense reports it sailed more than 25,000 nautical miles and 16 passages of the Strait of Hormuz.

Both Germany and Italy confirmed they are preparing to join the EU-led initiative in the Red Sea which is expected to be authorized later this month. Following a similar process to Denmark, Germany last week dispatched a frigate to the Mediterranean to have it in position when the EU confirms its efforts. Italy is already active with the EUNAVFOR mission Atalanta providing security on the Somali coast and France has been operating independently in the Red Sea since November 2023.