COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A United States (US) aircraft carrier arrived Wednesday in Oslo with the Norwegian armed forces saying it gives them “a unique opportunity to further develop cooperation and work more closely with our most important ally, the United States.”
The nuclear-powered ship USS Gerald R Ford entered the Oslo fjord escorted by a rapid dinghy-type boat with armed personnel on board. The Norwegian armed forces has said any boats must stay a half-kilometre (half-mile) away from the aircraft carrier and a no-fly zone was created over the area where the aircraft carrier was.
Described as the largest aircraft carrier in the world, the vessel will stay in the Norwegian capital until Tuesday. It is then expected to take part in drills with the Norwegian armed forces, reportedly in the Arctic.
The ship’s first foreign call was broadcast live on Norwegian public television. Onlookers, some using binoculars, were seen on land watching as the large aircraft carrier glided deeper and deeper into the fjord and eventually reached the city of Oslo.
Laila Wilhelmsen, who stood along the route in Droebak, said that she grew up in the small town about halfway through the fjord during the Cold War in the 1950s and “there were warships here all the time.”
“I don’t know, but now we have teased (Russian President Vladimir) Putin even more. It’s scary, I think,” she told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
The Scandinavian country’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, told Norway’s news agency NTB that there will come “predictable reactions from Russia to this,” adding that Oslo was “continuing the line we have had in recent years of wanting allied exercises in Norwegian waters.”
The Russian Embassy in the Norwegian capital said that “such demonstrations of power look illogical and harmful.”
Ties between Oslo and Moscow have been tense since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Norway and Russia have a 198-kilometre-long (123-mile-long) border in the Arctic.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration said two of its pilots were onboard to navigate through the more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) long fjord, and that the depth of the 76-metre (250-feet) tall vessel was “the big challenge.”
“The aircraft carrier stays marginally within the maximum depth in the sailing regulations for the Oslo fjord,” the administration said.
Later Wednesday, the aircraft carrier anchored off the island of Ormoeya in the inner part of Oslofjord, NTB wrote.
In early May, the US Navy said that the ship had departed from Norfolk, Virginia, on its “first combat deployment,” following a shorter two-month deployment in the autumn of 2022.
The vessel is the first of the US Navy’s new Ford class of aircraft carriers. Two more Ford-class carriers are under construction.
The vessel houses about 2,600 sailors, 600 fewer than the previous generation of aircraft carriers.