After two weeks in Norwegian waters, the huge US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford has sailed away, following the end of military exercises off Northern Norway. “The Army, Air Force, Navy and special forces have all had valuable training with the vessel,” stated the Norwegian defense department.
The aircraft carrier first carried out exercises in the North Sea before sailing up the Oslo Fjord and then on to the waters off Vesterålen. Its visit “contributed towards strengthening Norway’s security,” said Ygve Odlo, chief of defense operative headquarters.
Norway’s defense preparedness has been harshly criticized in recent months and massive new investment is underway, just as one of the country’s five frigates had to be sold as scrap metal after colliding with a tanker and sinking nearly five years ago. Now Norway’s defense chief is asking for several more frigates, along with more submarines, helicopters and other vessels.
During the recent Arctic Challenge Exercise, new Norwegian F35 fighter jets trained with the aircraft carrier and 150 other fighter jets from 14 nations. News bureau NTB reported during the weekend that American B1 Lancers also took part in the the exercise Bomber Task Force Viking Trident.