Last September, Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre, and Norway’s Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram met with U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro on the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), while the warship prepared for her maiden deployment.
This week, the carrier was visited again by Norwegian distinguished officials in advance of its port-of-call visit to Oslo.
“What a great day to be aboard the Gerald R. Ford with our Norwegian Allies, enhancing U.S.-Norway relations,” said Vice Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). “I look forward to our joint operations on NATO’s northern flank, which improve interoperability, maintain freedom of navigation in international waters, deter aggression, and prepare us to defend our nations and the Alliance.”
Oslo Welcomes the Ford
On Tuesday, USS Gerald R. Ford became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to pull into Norway in more than 65 years. The nuclear-powered carrier, the largest warship in the world, was escorted by a rapid dinghy-type boat with armed personnel on board. All civilian boats were ordered to stay at least half a mile from the carrier, while a no-fly zone was also created over the Oslo fjord where the carrier was positioned.
The visit occurred as U.S. Sixth Fleet and STRIKFORNATO executed exercise Formidable Shield 2023 from the High North and North Atlantic Ocean, May 8-26. The deployment of the carrier serves as a NATO show of force as there are heightened tensions between NATO and Russia over the war in Ukraine.
“This visit is an important signal of the close bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Norway and a signal of the credibility of collective defence and deterrence,” said Jonny Karlsen, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, the operational command centre of the military, Reuters reported.
USS Gerald R. Ford is expected to stay in the Norwegian capital until Tuesday before it is expected to take part in drills with the Norwegian armed forces in the Arctic.
Russia Dismayed By Carrier Visit to Norway
The arrival of the carrier hasn’t gone unnoticed by Russia. Ties between Oslo and Moscow have been tense since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Norway and Russia share a 198-kilometer-long (123-mile-long) border in the Arctic.
“There are no issues in the North that require a military solution, nor issues that require outside intervention,” Russian embassy to Norway spokesman Timur Chekanov told AFP by email. “Considering that Oslo admits that Russia poses no direct military threat to Norway, such shows of force seem illogical and harmful.”
Some Norwegians had expressed similar concerns.
“I don’t know, but now we have teased (Russian President Vladimir) Putin even more. It’s scary, I think,” Laila Wilhelmsen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, per the Associated Press. She said she grew up near the fjord during the Cold War, and in the 1950s said, “There were warships here all the time.”
If Putin was teased by this visit, he’ll be even more enraged following next week’s training drills, which put on display the full capabilities of the U.S. Navy’s newest carrier.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.