The 337-meter-long super aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford is expected to dock in the Norwegian capital this week, in what Russia has criticized as “an unwarranted and damaging show of force”.
The US Navy announced earlier this month that the USS General Ford is leaving Norfolk, Virginia on her “first operational deployment” following a shorter two-month deployment in the fall of 2022. Commander of the Navy’s 6th Fleet. Thomas E Ishee, said the aircraft carrier’s presence is aimed at deterring aggression against NATO members.
Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram on May 22 boarded the USS General Ford as it sailed towards Norway. He said the ship’s visit was “a very positive thing in our cooperation with the US”.
“It was a wonderful day to be aboard Gerald Ford with our Norwegian ally, helping to strengthen ties between our two countries,” said Ishee. “I look forward to our joint operation on NATO’s northern flank, helping to enhance interoperability, maintain freedom of navigation in international waters, deter aggression and prepare for our country’s defence,” he said.
Supercarrier USS Gerald Ford in the Atlantic Ocean in March. Photo: US Navy
Russia objected to the movement of the American vessel. “There are no problems in the North Sea that require a military solution, nor are there any problems that require external intervention,” Russian embassy spokesman in Norway Timur Chekanov said on May 23. “Given Oslo’s admission that Russia poses no direct military threat to Norway, such displays of force seem absurd and harmful.”
The supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford was built in 2009, launched 4 years later and delivered to the US Navy in May 2017. This is a nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a displacement of over 100,000 tons. The cost of the Gerald Ford aircraft carrier at the time was $12.6 billion, surpassing the original budget of $2.4 billion and the most expensive in history.
Location Russia, Norway and North Sea. Graphics: Euronews
Norway is a member of NATO and shares a 198 km border with Russia in the Arctic region. Relations between the two countries deteriorated significantly after Russia launched an operation in Ukraine at the end of February last year. Although not a member of the European Union, Norway has implemented almost all of the sanctions that Brussels has imposed on Russia.
In April 2022, Oslo expelled three Russian diplomats suspected of spying, prompting Moscow to retaliate by expelling three Norwegian diplomats. In October 2022, Norway arrested a Brazilian researcher suspected of being a Russian spy and ordered his expulsion. In the middle of that month, Norwegian police announced the arrest of four Russian citizens suspected of taking pictures of a secret facility in central Norway.
Last month, Norway continued to expel 15 Russian embassy employees for alleged intelligence activities.
Huyen Le (according to AFP, Reutir)