Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Icelandic Coast Guard

Last year when Sue and visited Iceland I took a lot of photos of ships of the Icelandic Coast Guard with the intention of writing a blog entry about them ... but somehow I never quite got around to it until now.

The Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgæsla Íslands, Landhelgisgæslan or Gæslan) is responsible for Iceland's coastal defence as well as undertaking a maritime and aeronautical search and rescue role. It was founded on 1st July, 1926 and its first ship was the Óðinn. By July 1929 a further ship (the Ægir) had been added to the fleet, and subsequently a number of converted trawlers were brought into service.

The Icelandic Coast Guard became well-known in the UK as a result of the so-called Cod Wars between 1972 and 1975, when they tried to enforce the new 200 nautical mile fishing limits. There were numerous instances where ships of the Icelandic Coast Guard cut the trawl wires of British and West German trawlers, and this led to several confrontations with warships of the Royal Navy ... during which the latter did not always come off best.

Because of the environment in which the Icelandic Coast Guard has to operate, its ships have always been designed to cope with very heavy seas. At present its fleet consist of three offshore patrol vessels (OPV) (named Þór, Týr, and Ægir), a coastal hydrographic/patrol vessel (named Baldur), and an Fast RHIB.

ICGV Þór (Thor)



Þór was designed by Rolls Royce and constructed by the ASMAR Naval Shipyard in Talcahuano, Chile. She is very similar to the Norwegian Coast Guard ship Harstad, which was also designed by Rolls Royce. Þór was delivered in September 2011 and went into service soon afterwards.

Her characteristics are as follows:
  • Displacement: 3,920 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 93.80m (307.7 ft)
    • Beam: 16m (52.0 ft)
    • Draught: 5.80 m (19.0 ft)
  • Propulsion: 2 x 4,500 kW Rolls Royce Bergen diesel engines driving 2 propellers; 3 x 450 kW tunnel thrusters (two forward and and one aft); 1 x 883 kW retractable azimuth thruster
  • Speed: 20.1 knots
  • Complement: 48
  • Armament: 1 x Bofors 40 mm gun; 2 x 12.7 mm machine guns
  • Sensors: 1 x S-band radar; 2 x X-band radar; Synthetic aperture sonar
  • Aviation facilities: Helicopter in-flight refuelling capabilities (HIFR)




ICGV Ægir-class


The two other main vessels of the Icelandic Coast Guard are the Ægir-class sister-ships Ægir and Týr. They were built in the late 1960s in Denmark by built Aalborg Værft a/s. The hull design was based on that of a deep sea trawler.

The characteristics of the two ships are as follows:
  • Displacement: 1,146 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 69.82m (229.18 ft )
    • Beam: 10m (33.0 ft )
    • Draught: 5.8 m (19.0 ft )
  • Propulsion: 2 x M.A.N. Diesel engines (total 6330 kW) driving two controlled pitch propellers; Three auxilliary Caterpillar diesel engines (1 x 216 kW, 1 x 265 kW and 1 x 350 kW); One 245 kW bow thruster
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Complement: 16 to 19
  • Armament: 1 x Bofors 40 mm gun plus various small arms
  • Sensors: Sperry E/F-band surface search radar; Furuno I-band navigation radar; Hull-mounted high-frequency active search sonar
  • Aviation facilities: Can operate a helicopter (Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma)



The sister-ships are very similar, but can be easily distinguished from one another by the shield on the Bofors 40mm guns; Ægir‘s mounting is open and Týr’s is enclosed.


Both ships have enclosed crows nests, which are very necessary in the inhospitable weather conditions that they operate in.


ICGV Óðinn (Odin)


Although decommissioned in 2006, the Óðinn (not the original one that was introduced into service in 1926!) has been preserved as part of the Reykjavik Maritime Museum.

She was built in 1960 and her characteristics are as follows:
  • Displacement: 925 tonnes
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 63.68m (209 ft)
    • Beam: 10m (33 ft)
    • Draught: 5.5m (18 ft)
  • Propulsion: 2 x Burmeister & Wain V.B.F 62 diesel engines (2096 kW)
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Complement: 19
  • Armament: 1 x Bofors 40 mm L60 MKIII gun (originally 1 x 57 mm Hotchkiss QF gun)
  • Sensors: Sperry E/F-band surface search radar; Furuno I-band navigation radar
  • Aircraft facilities: Could operate one helicopter




Óðinn has had her Bofors 40mm gun removed and replaced by a 57mm Hotchkiss QF gun.


Like the two Ægir-class ships, Óðinn was also fitted with a fully enclosed crows nest.

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