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Norwegian Armed Forces' Frigate Branch suffering serious deficiencies

​The five Nansen class frigates, which play a key role in helping the Norwegian Armed Forces carry out assignments relating to military conflicts and during times of war, have major deficiencies. "The deficiencies associated with technical condition, access to spare parts, crewing and training are so great that the frigates do not have the operational capacity assumed by the Storting", said Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 2/7/2017 12:00 PM

​On 7 February, the Office of the Auditor General submitted to the Storting an unclassified summary of Document 3:13 (2015-2016), The Office of the Auditor General's investigation into the operational capability of the Frigate Branch. The Office of the Auditor General was asked to consider declassification after the classified report was submitted to the Storting in June 2016. The unclassified summary has been agreed with the Ministry of Defence.

In its report, the Office of the Auditor General concluded that the frigates did not have the overall operational capability assumed by the Storting. There are deficiencies associated with technical condition, and the situation as regards personnel and competencies is challenging. The situation varies between the vessels, but there are deficiencies associated with all vessels. "The Office of the Auditor General considers this to be serious", said Per-Kristian Foss.

The frigates will also be equipped with NH90 helicopters. This will only be done by the end of 2021, more than 10 years late. This means that, for much of their lives, the vessels will be without one of their most important capabilities.

Deficiencies in access to key spare parts and a lack of control and planning as regards the acquisition of spare parts has led to parts being switched between the vessels. In addition, the weakened capacity and competence of the Norwegian Armed Forces' logistics organisation (FLO) has meant that purchases of replacement parts and repairs have taken longer. Impaired data quality relating to stocks has also led to the Frigate Branch acquiring materials from outside the FLO. The management of spare parts for the Frigate Branch has not been cost-effective in many areas and has led to increased operating expenses.

"The challenges associated with spare part management are extremely serious, and both the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of Defence have a responsibility to resolve the situation that has arisen", stressed Foss.

Technical availability has decreased as a result of an imbalance over time between maintenance needs and the maintenance budget. "We believe that the Ministry of Defence has not ensured an adequate balance between assignments and resource availability", said Foss.

The Office of the Auditor General also noted that the Norwegian Armed Forces' performance information is based on internal concepts that do not necessarily reflect the requirements of the Ministry of Defence. The Office of the Auditor General believes that the fact that the Ministry of Defence and the Norwegian Armed Forces do not have uniform terminology with regard to operational capabilities represents a significant weakness. The Office of the Auditor General recommends that the Ministry ensures more uniform terminology usage and improved performance reporting regarding operational capabilities.

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