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Surface Forces: Skjolds For SOCOM
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November 7, 2007: Norway is getting rid of its six Skjold class stealth patrol boats. Times have changed, and Norway is shrinking and reorganizing its military. Apparently the Skjolds  will be offered for sale on the international arms market. Two years ago, SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) looked into acquiring some Skjold ships for delivering SEAL commandoes. That interest might be renewed.


The 260 ton Skjold class ships are of a stealthy design and normally carry one 76mm cannon, plus eight anti-ship missiles, plus portable Mistral anti-aircraft missiles fired from a pedestal mount. The SEALs would remove most of this armament to provide space for commandoes and their gear. The unique catamaran/air cushion design of the Skjolds enable them to move fast even through rough seas. Top speed is over 100 kilometers an hour. Built of composites, the Skjolds are very stealthy and boxy in appearance (155 feet long and 45 feet wide). But they are expensive, costing over $100 million each. They are highly automated and only require a crew of fifteen (although as few as ten sailors can operate it). Four years ago, one crossed the Atlantic to demonstrate the ship to the U.S. Navy. The ship can go 1400 kilometers on one load of fuel, and stay at sea for over 21 days at a time. In addition to 35-40 tons of fuel and water, the ship can carry 30-35 tons of weapons, including a hundred troops (for a few hours) in the aft missile bay (instead of the missiles). The first of this class was built in 1997 as an experiment. While an innovative design, Norway does not see a pressing need for ships like the Skjolds.


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