The United Kingdom and Norway have agreed to establish a strategic partnership to counter shared threats, including protecting undersea infrastructure.

The Defense Secretary of the UK, Ben Wallace, and the Norwegian Defense Minister, Bjørn Arild Gram, signed a statement of intent to collaborate on critical energy infrastructure protection, anti-submarine warfare, and subsea defence. This partnership signifies a significant step towards enhancing defence cooperation between these allied nations.

Nations warning from Nordstream

The exponential growth in using the seabed for energy and communications has exposed critical national infrastructure to potential threats. Recent incidents, such as the damage to the Nordstream pipeline, have underscored the need for increased security measures in the region.

Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said: “It is important that democracies like the UK and Norway stand together when the rules-based international order is under pressure. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year is a concrete reminder of what is at stake here.”

The UK and Norway have already bolstered security patrols in response to these challenges. Building on this ongoing collaboration, the newly established strategic partnership will further strengthen the two nations’ ability to operate jointly and develop capabilities to safeguard their shared interests in the North Sea.

Norway’s shared sea security

With mutual interests in the North Sea, the North Atlantic, and the High North, regional security is of paramount importance to the national security of both nations.

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This development builds upon the longstanding bilateral defence relationship between Norway and the UK, which includes close cooperation between the Joint Expeditionary Force and the Northern Group. Furthermore, both nations share vital capabilities such as P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and F-35 fighter jets.

The partnership will also focus on strengthening training and exercises, which have been the foundation of the bilateral defence relationship for over five decades.

Earlier this year, the UK announced the arrival of a new sub-sea protection vessel, RFA Proteus, into Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. Currently undergoing refit, this vessel will play a crucial role in protecting critical national infrastructure.

The adaptable offshore patrol vessel will operate remote and autonomous offboard systems for underwater surveillance and seabed warfare, bolstering national security.

In Europe, Russia’s aggressive posture with the recent invasion of Ukraine and increased patrols in the Arctic region has propelled countries with claims over the area and maritime assets to invest in modernizing their respective naval strengths, according to a GlobalData report.

Beyond their collaboration on undersea capabilities, the UK and Norway continue to cooperate closely in supporting Ukraine’s defence against the illegal invasion by Russian forces. The UK welcomes Norway’s extensive direct and indirect support for Ukraine, highlighting its commitment to promoting regional stability.

According to GlobalData’s “The Global Undersea Warfare Systems Market 2018-2028” report, the UK Undersea Warfare market will be valued at $845m in 2028.

As the United Kingdom and Norway forge ahead with their strategic partnership, the joint efforts to counter shared threats in the undersea domain will undoubtedly contribute to the collective security of both nations.

By combining their resources and expertise, they aim to establish a robust defence framework that can effectively respond to emerging challenges and protect their vital interests in the undersea realm.