Denmark Dispatches Frigate Preparing to Join Red Sea Security Efforts
Denmark dispatched a frigate toward the Red Sea in anticipation of joining the U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian in February. The frigate Iver Huitfeldt, commissioned in 2011 as one of three air defense frigates in the Danish armed forces departed her base today, January 29, bound for the Mediterranean. It is in advance of a final vote by the Danish Parliament expected next week to confirm the mission.
“As a maritime nation, Denmark has a responsibility to strengthen maritime security,” said Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen during the sendoff ceremony. “This is why the Danish Defense Force is contributing the frigate Iver Huitfeldt to Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.”
According to the command, the vessel will have 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. They anticipate that the vessel will join the Combined Task Force 153 as of early February and will remain in the region until at least mid-April 2024.
The frigate Iver Huitfeldt sets sail from Korsør, Denmark to strengthening maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. (Photo: Rune Dyrholm courtesy of Danish Defense)
Danish officials had recently called for their country’s naval forces to join the operation citing the increasing risk to commercial shipping. While Maersk and most Danish flagged shipping is diverting from the area, they said Denmark should show the will and ability to protect the right to free navigation.
The authorizing legislation received its first reading in the Danish Parliament on January 24. They expect wide support and final adoption on February 6, after which the vessel will officially join the security operation. According to defense officials, the frigate and the country’s contribution will consist of a total crew of up to approximately 175 people. The ship is equipped with a Seahawk helicopter aboard. In addition to the vessel, Denmark is also providing a staff officer to the American-led offensive coalition.
During the departure ceremony, they highlight that Denmark has on several occasions contributed to the various efforts in the area. Between 2008 and 2017, Denmark contributed to the Combined Maritime Forces' anti-piracy operations as part of Task Forces and in Operation Ocean Shield. A Danish frigate was deployed in the water off Somalia in the efforts to protect against pirates and more recently Denmark sent a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea as part of the efforts to increase security for commercial shipping. In November 2021, a Danish frigate supporting a commercial ship that was being attacked by pirates killed four pirates in a firefight. One of the surviving pirates was taken to Denmark for medical treatment and subsequently stood trial in Denmark, but they also released three other suspects not wanting to bring them to Denmark for trial.
Danish officials said with their participation, up to 20 countries are participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian. It is part of the wider task force which includes 39 countries including Denmark.