It is striking how the now-familiar smooth, angled architecture of today’s warships, intended to reduce visual, heat and other signatures, is also somehow inherently Danish-modern. And the first thing one notices after boarding this ship is how clean and spotless everything is — almost relentlessly clean.
“We clean the ship every day,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Jensen, the ship’s operations officer. “It’s easier to keep a clean ship clean than to clean a dirty ship.”
The Nils Juel is the Danish Navy’s newest warship, handed over only in August. It’s the third and last of the Iver Huitfeldt class of large frigates which, along with two similar Absalon-class combat support ships, will make up Denmark’s primary naval force for the next three decades.
They could also be the last significant naval ships built in Denmark, as the Odense Shipyard that built them closed with the delivery of Nils Juel. But the team that designed the ship — a combination of Maersk Shipping, Odense and the Danish Navy — has established itself as Odense Maritime Technology (OMT), marketing its expertise in producing spacious, logical, efficient designs that can be bought for a fraction of the cost of similar warships built elsewhere.
The Danes claim Nils Juel and its sister ships were built for US $325 million apiece — an impressive accomplishment for a ship displacing more than 6,600 tons, fitted with a sophisticated combat and communications suite, armed with Standard, Evolved Sea Sparrow and Harpoon missiles, 76mm and 35mm guns, torpedoes and a helicopter, able to cut the waters at 30 knots and travel more than 9,000 nautical miles without refueling.
The price tag is often compared with the $440 million per-unit cost of the smaller US Navy littoral combat ship, which rises to well over $600 million apiece when the average cost of the LCS mission modules is factored in. And, proponents point out, the Danish ships carry a far heavier permanently installed armament.