Norway Hosts U.S. Aircraft Carrier For Historic Visit And Joint Exercises
The USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, arrived in Oslo on Wednesday, marking the first time such a U.S. ship has visited the Norwegian capital.
The 100,000-tonne vessel and its crew of about 5,000 will be conducting training exercises with the Norwegian armed forces along the country’s coast in the coming days, the Norwegian military said.
“This visit is an important signal of the close bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Norway and a signal of credibility of collective defence and deterrence”, said Jonny Karlsen, a spokesperson for the operational command centre of the military.
The arrival of the aircraft carrier comes at a time of heightened tension between NATO and Russia over the war in Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting government forces since 2015.
Russia has accused NATO of provoking a conflict by expanding its presence and activities near its borders, while NATO has accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is part of a larger U.S. naval group that includes two guide-missile destroyers, a guided-missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine.
The group will participate in several NATO exercises in the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, demonstrating the alliance’s readiness and capability to respond to any threat, according to a U.S. Navy statement.
The Russian embassy in Oslo condemned that aircraft carrier’s visit, saying it was an unnecessary show of force that could destabilize the region.
“There are no questions in the (Arctic) north that require a military solution, nor topics where outside intervention is needed”, the embassy said in a Facebook post.
Norway shares a border with Russia in the Arctic and is a major producer and exporter of oil and gas. The Norwegian military and NATO allies have been patrolling around offshore oil and gas platforms since last year, following explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines that carry Russian gas to Europe.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is the first of a new class of aircraft carriers that are designed to operate more efficiently and carry more advanced weapons and aircraft than their predecessors.
The ship was commissioned in 2017 and is still undergoing testing and evaluation before becoming fully operational.