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Danish Defence Command publishes report on Red Sea technical issues

Royal Danish Navy frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt (pictured in October 2021) was deployed to the Red Sea from February–April 2024. (Michael Nitz)

Danish Defence Command has published a report on the technical issues experienced by Royal Danish Navy (RDN) frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt (F 361) during an engagement on 9 March 2024 in the Red Sea as part of the US-led multinational task force Operation ‘Prosperity Guardian'.

The 13-page report released on 2 May found that a previously unknown issue with the frigate's Raytheon Mk 56 vertical launching system (VLS) was experienced during the engagement, resulting in an inability to use Raytheon RIM-162B Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSMs) for approximately 30 minutes. The engagement, which lasted just under one hour, saw the frigate destroy four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) controlled by the Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (popularly known as the Houthis) using previously fired ESSM and 76 mm gunfire.

The report also said that the frigate's crew experienced issues with 76 mm ammunition, with shells bursting close to the ship, but that investigations are ongoing into this issue. Moreover, the frigate's Oerlikon Millennium 35 mm close-in-weapons system (CIWS) also experienced problems, the report said.

The report reached two preliminary conclusions on the issues experienced by the frigate on 9 March. First, in relation to the ESSM, it found that an error was experienced in the launcher after a first missile had been fired. Two more ESSMs were fired, after which the second ESSM launcher (the Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates possess two 12-cell VLS banks) experienced the same issue, rendering both inoperable. The report assessed “that this is an error condition that has not been registered previously” and said that the system had been removed for further analysis with the supplier after

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