HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F314)
The fifth of five ships commissioned to the Fridtjof Nansen-class, HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl F314 continues to serve the modern Norwegian Navy.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The modern Norwegian Navy committed to five ships to make up the Fridtjof Nansen-class of guided-missile frigates (the group was selected to succeed the aging, outgoing Oslo-class). These were all built to the same standard, save for the fifth, and final, warship of the group, HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F314) - which was finalized with twin 8-cell Vertical Launch Systems (VLSs) instead of the typical single installation seen on her sisters. The class lost one of their number in November 2018 when HNoMS was involved in a collision with a Maltese tanker and placed out of commission indefinitely (she later was selected for scrapping as she could not be saved). HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, however, continues to serve for her part, and takes her place alongside the remaining three sister ships in service to the Norwegian flag on the high seas.
The vessels of the class were all built at the Navantia (formerly Bazan) shipyard of Ferrol, Spain and largely follow the form and function of the Spanish Navy's Alvaro de Bazan-class fighting frigates detailed elsewhere on this site.
HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl is named after the famed Norwegian explorer of same name. The vessel was ordered on June 23rd, 2000 and saw its keel laid down on November 23rd, 2007. It was launched to sea on February 11th, 2009 and formally commissioned for service on January 18th, 2011 and issued Pennant Number F314 - remaining in active service as of this writing (2019).
Heyerdahl (F314) is classified as a multi-role / "multi-mission" frigate, meaning her hull and onboard systems are designed from the outset to accomplish various tasks at sea - from airspace denial and strategic corridor management to fleet support and submarine-hunting. As such the vessel is inherently versatile which plays well into the modestly-sized Royal Norwegian Navy service charged with select overseas duties as well as protection of Norway's long-running coastline.
As finalized, HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F314) has a displacement of 5,300 tons under full load and its overall length reaches 440 feet with a beam measuring 55 feet and a draught down to 15 feet. Power is through a COmbined Diesel-and-Gas (CODAG) propulsion scheme in which diesel units are coupled with gas turbines to achieve various cruising / fast dash actions in the name of fuel efficiency and optimal operating ranges. The result is a warship capable of reaching speeds of 27 knots in open water and out to 4,500 nautical miles - serving the Norwegian coast rather well in this fashion. The propulsion scheme involves 2 x BAZAN 12V 4.5 MW diesel engines (cruise) and 1 x General Electric LM2500 21.5 MW gas turbine (dashing). These are mated to MAAG transmission systems and, all told, drive power to 2 x Shafts astern. A single bow thruster allows for more precise agility closer to shore / dock. Diesel generators number 4 x MTU 396 Serie 12V 1250 KA units.
Aboard is a crew of 120 though the warship can accommodate as many as 146 when needed. A small air arm is retained to manage the single NHindustries NH90 maritime helicopter launched /retrieved from the stern-based helideck. This system provides a critical over-the-horizon vantage point and can also serve in the spotting, sub-hunting, and rescue roles as needed.
Sensors and processing systems include the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F 3D multifuntion radar, the Reutech RSR 210N air/surface-search radar, the SAGEM Vigy 20 series Electro-Optical (EO) director, the MRS 2000 series sonar fit in the hull, the CAPTAS Mk.II V.1 active/passive towed sonar array, and a pair of Mark 82 series fire-control radar systems. The Terma DL-12T decoy launcher and LOKI torpedo countermeasures installations serve in the Electronic Warfare (EW) / decoy role.
Armament is led by 2 x 8-cell Mk.41 VLS launcher modules feeding from a stock of 64 x RIM-162 "Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles" (ESSMs) countering short-to-median-ranged aerial threats. There are 8 x Naval Strike Missile (NSM) launchers for use against surface threats and 4 x Torpedo tubes supporting "Sting Ray" torpedoes for use against enemy warships and submarines alike. More conventional, ballistic-minded weaponry includes the 76mm OTO-Melara "Super Rapid" firing automatic gun housed in a trainable turret over the forecastle (this can be substituted with the 127mm/54mm OTO-Breda automatic gun if needed or an additional 76mm turret installation). 4 x "Sea PROTECTOR" Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs) provide a digital automatic solution to inbound, short-ranged aerial threats. Upt o 4 x 12.7mm Browning M2HB Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) form a last line-of-defense. 2 x LRAD (Long-Range Accoustic Devices) are also carried.
The carried NJ90 helicopter, when properly equipped, also extends the offensive and defensive capabilities of warship.
As with the ships of her class, and other modern warships in service today, Thor Heyerdahl (F314) has been completed with an all-modern appearance and special attention paid to radar-dampening and a reduced profile along the horizon. Her main mast is fully enclosed and her smoke funnels are integrated into the hull superstructure while also being of a low-profile design. The sides of the superstructure seamlessly integrate with the hull line which runs nearly from bow to stern. The aft superstructure is integrated to the main mass of the ship and external protrusions are reduced when and wherever possible. The bow-mounted turreted main gun is given unfettered traversal across the front and sides of the warship to engage targets at nearly any angle. The bridge section takes a commanding position behind and above the forward VLS cell, providing the managing crew with excellent views out over the front and forward sides of the ship.