US Navy brings massive fire power to Tromsø

This is the first time a guided missile submarine of the Ohio-class makes port call to Northern Norway. The “USS Florida” is one of the most powerful warships in the world, capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - September 15, 2023
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The 170 meter long “USS Florida” is a converted Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine. Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christine Montgomery

It was Thursday morning the massive nuclear-powered submarine surfaced in the fjord and slowly sailed to port at Grøtsund north of Tromsø.

“We are grateful to Norway for allowing “USS Florida” to conduct a port visit to Tromsø. Stops like these ensure that the submarine and her crew are able to continue their mission of promoting security and stability in the region,” said Rear Adm. Stephen Mack, director of Maritime Operations, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa.

This is not the first US Navy submarine visit to Tromsø, but never before has the large Ohio-class been welcomed by the Norwegians.

The “USS Florida” is one of four Ohio-class submarines that are converted from carrying ballistic missiles as part of the US naval deterrent to now being armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

It is unclear for how long the submarine has patrolled outside Northern Norway, waters of strategic importance also for the Russian Northern Fleet sailing out of the Kola Peninsula.

U.S. Sixth Fleet says in a statement on September 14 that the submarine prior to Tromsø made a scheduled visit to Naples, Italy in August.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile (TLAM/N) was retired in 2013, ending a long-lasting post-Cold War process of eliminating all non-strategic naval nuclear weapons from the Navy’s arsenal.

The cruise missiles now onboard the rebuilt Ohio SSGNs are armed with conventional warheads, not nuclear.

Mack brewery

In Tromsø, Norwegian officials will be allowed on board.

“We are excited to welcome distinguished visitors aboard while in Tromsø, as a visible demonstration of the strength of the U.S.-Norway partnership, and we look forward to continuing to operate with our long-standing NATO Ally as we work together towards our shared goals,” said Rear Admiral Mack.

By coincidence, the Rear Admiral has the same name as the local beer brewery in Tromsø: Mack.

The Navy statement says nothing about how long “USS Florida” will stay in Tromsø but says that the crew “will have the opportunity to experience the rich culture of Tromsø, and build relationships with the local population.

Tromsø is famous in Norway for its nightlife, pubs and restaurants.

Mack beer on the roof of Tromsø. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

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