Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

London, 18 May 2023

The UK and Norway agree to develop a strategic partnership to counter shared threats in the undersea domain, including threats to our undersea infrastructure.

The UK and Norway have today agreed to develop a strategic partnership to counter shared threats in the undersea domain, including threats to our undersea infrastructure.

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, and Norwegian Defence Minister, Bjørn Arild Gram, signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) during a visit to the Maritime Operations Centre in Northwood today, agreeing to collaborate further on undersea capabilities to enhance North Atlantic Security.

The growing use of the seabed for energy and communications purposes has resulted in increased opportunities for adversaries to threaten Western subsea critical national infrastructure, as seen through the damaging of the Nordstream pipeline, where the UK and Norway have jointly increased security patrols in the region.

Building on this ongoing collaboration, this partnership will enhance the two nations’ ability to exercise and operate together and develop capabilities that will protect our shared interests in the North Sea, while simplifying the process for Allies and partners to join or complement UK and Norwegian activity.

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said:

Cooperating through the JEF and the Northern Group with our long-standing defence partner and NATO ally Norway, we are heightening our joint capabilities to protect Western critical national infrastructure on the seabed.

The attack on the Nord Stream pipeline has determined even closer collaboration across our collective assets to detect and defend against subsea threats and ensure continued North Atlantic security.

With shared interests in the North Sea, the North Atlantic and the High North, regional security is central to the national security of both nations. This strategic partnership will continue to deepen defence ties between the two nations as they work together to protect and deter against subsea threats.

This announcement builds on the excellent bilateral defence relationship between Norway and the UK, including by cooperating closely in the JEF and the Northern Group, as well as on key shared capabilities such as P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and F-35s. Training and exercises provide the bedrock to our bilateral defence relationship, and have done for over 50 years.

Defence Minister, Bjørn Arild Gram said:

It is important that democracies like the UK and Norway stand together when the rules based international order is under pressure. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year, is a concrete reminder of what is at stake here. By working together, we can improve our ability to detect submarines, to counter mine threats and to protect critical infrastructure on the seabed.

Earlier this year, the UK also announced the arrival of a new sub-sea protection vessel into Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, where it has been undergoing a period of refit. Last month, that vessel – supporting the UK’s protection of critical national infrastructure – was formally named as RFA Proteus by Baroness Goldie on a visit to Faslane, Scotland.

The 98-metre-long, adaptable offshore patrol vessel – the length of Big Ben – will act as a ‘mother ship’, operating remote and autonomous offboard systems for underwater surveillance and seabed warfare, vital to our national security.

The UK continues to work closely with Norway to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty against Putin’s illegal invasion, and we welcome Norway’s extensive direct and indirect support for Ukraine.

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