Icelandic Coast Guard

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Icelandic Coast Guard
Landhelgisgæsla Íslands
LHG skjöldur opinber 2005.jpg
Active 1920
Country  Iceland
Role National Defence, Law enforcement, Maritime and Aviation Search and Rescue, Counter Terrorism, Minesweeping, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and other tasks.[1][2][3][4]
Size 3 x Patrol vessels
1 x Fixed wing aircraft
3 x Helicopters
1 x Patrol/survey boat
200 x Officers and men
Nickname Gæslan (The Guard)
Motto "Við erum til taks" ("Always prepared")
Engagements World War II
Cod Wars
Iraq War
Commanders
General Director R.Adm Georg Kr. Lárusson
Chief of Operations Capt. Ásgrímur L. Ásgrímsson
Chief of Aeronautical Division Cdr. s.g. Sindri Steingrímsson
Insignia
Naval Ensign Flag of Iceland (state).svg
Aircraft flown
Patrol 1 Bombardier DHC-8-Q314
Transport 3 Aérospatiale AS-332L1 Super Puma
ICGV Þór - flagship of Icelandic Coast Guard since 2011

The Icelandic Coast Guard (Icelandic: Landhelgisgæsla Íslands, Landhelgisgæslan or simply Gæslan) is the service responsible for Iceland's coastal defense and maritime and aeronautical search and rescue. Its origins can be traced to 1859, when the corvette Ørnen started patrolling Icelandic waters. In 1906, Iceland's first purposely built guard-ship, Islands Falk, began operation. Iceland's own defense of its territorial waters began around 1920 and the Icelandic Coast Guard was formally founded on July 1, 1926. The first cannon was put on the trawler Þór in 1924 and on June 23, 1926 the first ship built for the Coast Guard, named Óðinn, arrived in Iceland. Three years later, on the 14 July 1929 the coastal defence ship Ægir was added to the Coast Guard fleet.

The Icelandic Coast Guard played its largest role during the Cod Wars between 1972 and 1975, when the Coast Guard ships would cut the trawl wires of British and West German trawlers and engaged in confrontations with Royal Navy warships, in order to protect sealife from overfishing.

The Coast Guard also maintains the Iceland Air Defence System which conducts ground surveillance of Iceland's air space.[5][6]

Operations[edit]

From left to right: The captain of ÞÓR Cdr. s.g. Sigurður Steinar Ketilsson, the director of the Icelandic Coast Guard R.Adm. Georg Kr. Lárusson, the President of Iceland Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and the minister of the interior Ögmundur Jónasson.
Icelandic Coast Guard EOD specialist defusing a Car bomb in Iraq.

The Icelandic Coast Guard's (ICG) primary mission is the defending the Icelandic sovereignty, integrity of the territorial waters, maintaining Icelandic law and order inside the 200 nm wide Economic zone as well as other vital missions such as Search and Rescue. The Coast Guard operates JRCC-Iceland which is responsible for search and rescue of vessels and aircraft in Iceland's search and rescue region (SRR) according to International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual. Additionally the ICG is in the charge of defusing Naval mines, most of which were laid during the Second World War, and monitoring fisheries in International waters outside of the Icelandic Economic zone in order to blacklist any vessel partaking in unregulated fishing and thus bar them from receiving services from any member of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission[7] in order to make unregulated fishing unprofitable. The Icelandic Coast Guard also occasionally operates within Greenlandic and Faeroese waters, following a bilateral agreement with Denmark regarding mutual aid in security, rescue and defence matters.

The Coast Guard accomplishes these tasks with the use of offshore patrol vessels (OPV), helicopters, surveillance aircraft, satellites and a network of land based surface scanning radar.

The Icelandic Coast Guard is also in charge of the Iceland Air Defence System, which operates four ground-based AN/FPS-117v5 air surveillance radars and a control and command centre.

In the 1990s the Coast Guard started hosting exercises such as "Northern Challenge" which had military units from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, among others, participating along with the Icelandic Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has also taken part in Peacekeeping Operations on behalf of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit, although while usually using their own rank insignia, uniforms and weapons.

The fleet also takes part in Frontex operations, and in that role ICGV Týr played a major part in the rescue of over 300 Syrian refugees in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in January 2015.[8]

Fleet[edit]

Currently the Icelandic Coast Guard fleet consists of three offshore patrol vessels (OPV) and one coastal hydrographic and patrol vessel. In 2011 the Coast Guard received the new ICGV Þór built by the Asmar shipyard in Talcahuano, Chile.[9][10]

ICGV Týr, an Ægir-class, is the second youngest, built by Århus Flydedok a/s and launched in 1975. ICGV Ægir an Ægir-class is ICGV Týr's sister-ship, built by Ålborg Værft a/s and launched in 1968. Each ship is equipped with two or more rigid inflatable boats of various sizes and armed with a 40 mm Bofors cannon. Various kinds of small-arms as well as other man portable weapons are also carried onboard each of the ships. Týr and Þór are also equipped with sonar systems and the Ægir class sisterships have flight decks and a hangar for a small helicopter. While the Coast Guard currently doesn't operate small enough helicopters to use the hangars, the flight decks are often used by the helicopters of the Aeronautical Division on various missions. The coast guard has as well a 64 ton hydrographic survey boat, named Baldur, it was built by Vélsmiðja Seyðisfjarðar in 1991. This vessel has no mounted weaponry but it has nonetheless been used for port security and fishery inspection.

Aeronautical division[edit]

The Coast Guard's Aeronautical Division was founded on December 10, 1955 when a Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina flying boat was acquired. It was originally from the Iceland Defense Force but was damaged near Langanes in 1954. It was registered as TF-RAN and nicknamed Rán. The Catalina flew variously armed and unarmed, and in one instance the crew used a broomstick to force disobedient fishermen to sail directly to nearest port[citation needed].

Currently the Icelandic Coast Guard operates two Aerospatiale AS-332L1 Super Puma helicopters, which are registered as TF-LIF and TF-GNA. As a response to the withdrawal of the Iceland Defense Force at the year 2006 the Coast Guard operated four helicopters, but due to the consequences of the economical crisis in Iceland 2008 the number of helicopters had to be reduced to two.

The Coast Guard also operates a single Bombardier DHC-8-Q314, registered as TF-SIF, modified for maritime surveillance and reconnaissance. This plane has been extensively modified by FIELD to carry a modern Mission Management System and suite of surveillance sensors, air operable door and communications/navigation equipment. It is occasionally also used for surveillance of volcanic eruptions, e.g. of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010.

Unlike the fleet, aircraft of the Icelandic Coast Guard have standard Icelandic civilian registers, as the Alþingi (parliament) has never agreed on laws for military or government aircraft. Over the time since the division was formed the regulations for standard civilian aircraft have become more restrictive. As a result the Coast Guard can no longer operate military aircraft like it did in the past. Nevertheless, current helicopters are outfitted with latest generation U.S. night vision equipment, reserved for U.S. armed forces and the armies of their allies and thus the only civilian registered aircraft in the world, so equipped.[citation needed]

Ships and aircraft[edit]

ICGV Baldur (left) and ICGV Ægir docked in Reykjavík old-harbour
Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter
Helicopter TF-LIF, an AS 332L1 Super Puma[11]

All major vehicles of the Icelandic Coast Guard are currently named after beings from norse mythology.

Currently operated vessels
Currently operated aircraft
Currently operated leased aircraft
Decommissioned vessels
  • ICGV Óðinn (I)
  • ICGV Gautur, originally named Óðinn (II) but renamed when a new Óðinn (III) arrived, Gautur is one of Óðinn's pseudonyms.
  • ICGV Óðinn (III) an Offshore Patrol Vessel named after Óðinn the allseeing father of the gods.
  • ICGV Baldur (I), a fast patrol boat used for less than a year and returned because of bad characteristics in rough seas.
  • ICGV Baldur (II), an armed trawler.
  • ICGV Bragi, named after Bragi the god of poetry. A fast patrol boat used for less than a year and returned because of bad characteristics in rough seas.
  • ICGV Njörður, named after Njörðr the god of wind, fertile land along the seacoast, as well as seamanship, sailing and fishing. A fast patrol boat used for less than a year and returned because of bad characteristics in rough seas.
  • ICGV Týr (I), a whaler (Hvalur 9) borrowed during the second Cod War usually called Hval-Týr.
  • ICGV Þór (I)
  • ICGV Þór (II)
  • ICGV Ægir (I)
Other historical vessels that haven't adhered to the Norse mythology tradition
  • ICGV Albert, patrol and rescue vessel. Joint ownership by the ICG and the National Life-saving Association of Iceland,now ICE-SAR. Operated by the ICG.
  • ICGV Árvakur, a lighthouse tender and patrol ship decommissioned in the 1970s.
  • ICGV María Júlía, patrol and rescue vessel, named after one of those who financed her construction. Joint ownership by the ICG and the National Life-saving Association of Iceland. Operated by the ICG.
  • ICGV Sæbjörg, a patrol and rescue ship owned by the National Life-saving Association of Iceland but operated by the ICG.
  • ICGV Ver, an armed trawler. Operated by the ICG in the last cod war in 1975-1976.
Decommissioned aircraft

In addition the Coast Guard has rented or borrowed a number of civilian vessels and aircraft for shorter periods, which are not listed.

Weaponry[edit]

The Icelandic Coast Guard possesses 212 firearms, most of which have been retired.[13][14]

Current[edit]

Model Image Caliber Type Origin Quantity Details
Bofors 40 mm L/60 40mm-twin-naval.jpg 40 mm Autocannon  Sweden 4 Model year 1936. Gift from Denmark.
Glock N/A 9 mm Pistol  Austria 20 Model years 1990, 2006 and 2012. Bought from a dealership in Reykjavík.
H&K MP5 MP5.jpg 9 mm Submachine gun  Germany 50 Model year 1990. Gift from Norway 2011.
Rheinmetall MG 3 BundeswehrMG3.jpg 7.62 mm General-purpose machine gun  Germany 10 Model year 1990. Gift from Norway 2013.
Steyr N/A 7.62 mm Sniper rifle  Austria 8 Model year 1989. Bought from a dealership in Reykjavík.

Retired[edit]

Model Image Caliber Type Origin Quantity Details
Browning M2 Musee-de-lArmee-IMG 1044.jpg 12.7 mm Heavy machine gun  United States 3 Model year 1939. Came with a seaplane which the ICG had in operation.
H&K G3 DCB Shooting G3 pictures.jpg 7.62 mm Battle rifle  Germany 20 Model year 1959. Gift from Denmark 2006.
Cannon 37 mm N/A 37 mm Cannon N/A 3 Model year 1898. Gift from Denmark.
Cannon 47 mm N/A 47 mm Cannon N/A 3 Model year 1909. Gift from Denmark.
Cannon 57 mm N/A 57 mm Cannon N/A 5 Model year 1892. Gift from Denmark.
M1 carbine M1 Carbine Mk I - USA - Armémuseum.jpg 7.62 mm Carbine  United States 30 Model year 1940. Lent to the Reykjavík Police 1986.
M2 carbine M1 Carbine Mk I - USA - Armémuseum.jpg 7.62 mm Carbine  United States 20 Model year 1940. Lent to the Reykjavík Police 1986.
QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss Flickr - El coleccionista de instantes - Fotos La Fragata A.R.A. "Libertad" de la armada argentina en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (28).jpg 47 mm Cannon  France 1 Model year 1912. At a museum in Ísafjörður.
Remington N/A 12-gauge Shotgun  United States 4 Model year 2000. Bought from a dealership in Reykjavík.
RSAFE Enfield Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk 1 (1903) - UK - cal 303 British - Armémuseum.jpg .303 Repeating rifle  United Kingdom 10 Model year 1910. Unknown origin.
S&M 38 Police Special N/A .38 Special Pistol  United States 12 Model year 1940. Marshall aid.

Ranks[edit]

Officers[edit]

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
IcelandIceland No Equivalent No Equivalent No Equivalent
Generic-Navy-O9.svg
No Equivalent
Generic-Navy-O7.svg
Generic-Navy-O6.svg
Generic-Navy-O5.svg
Generic-Navy-O1.svg
No Equivalent
Ranks Director General Chief of operations 1°Captain of vessel/aircraft 2°Captain of vessel/aircraft Commanding officer Officer after 6 years service Officer after 2 years service Officer

Enlisted[edit]

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Iceland
(Edit)
ICG-OR9.gif No equivalent ICG-OR7.gif No equivalent ICG-OR5.gif No equivalent ICG-OR3.gif ICG-OR2a.gif ICG-OR2b-2007.gif ICG-OR1-2007.gif
Rank Petty officer/specialist
(after 12 years service)
--- Petty officer/specialist
(after 6 years service)
--- Petty officer/specialist --- Enlisted
(after 6 years service)
Enlisted
(after 3 years service)
Enlisted
(after 1 year service)
Enlisted

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]