Icelandic Coast Guard
|This article is outdated. (November 2010)|
|Icelandic Coast Guard
|Role||National Defence, Law enforcement, Maritime and Aviation Search and Rescue, Counter Terrorism, Minesweeping, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and other tasks.|
|Size||4 x ships
1 x plane
3 x Helicopters
1 x Survey/patrol boat
165 x Officers and men
|Nickname||Gæslan (The Guard)|
|Motto||"Við erum til taks" ("Always prepared")|
|Engagements||World War II
|General Director||R.Adm Georg Kr. Lárusson|
|Chief of Operations||Capt. Ásgrímur L. Ásgrímsson|
|Chief of Aeronautical Division||Cdr. s.g. Sindri Steingrímsson|
|Patrol||1 Bombardier DHC-8-Q314|
|Transport||3 Aérospatiale AS-332L1 Super Puma|
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, in order to protect sealife from overfishing, and engaged in confrontations with Royal Navy warships.
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 200nmi 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 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.
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 
Currently the Icelandic Coast Guard fleet consists of three offshore patrol vessels (OPV) and one coastal hydrographic vessel. In 2011 the Coast Guard received the new ICGV Þór built by the Asmar shipyard in Talcahuano, Chile.
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 a 64 ton hydrographic survey boat as well, 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.
The aeronautical division 
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.
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.
Ships and aircraft 
All major vehicles of the Icelandic Coast Guard are currently named after beings from norse mythology.
- Currently operated vessels
- ICGV Þór (III) a Chilean-built UT 512L Type (enlarged UT 512 Type) Offshore patrol vessel commissioned in late 2011 and the flagship of the service. Named after Þór the god of thunder, lighting and troll slaying.
- ICGV Týr (II) a Danish-built Ægir-class Offshore Patrol Vessel named after Týr, the god of combat and heroism.
- ICGV Ægir (II) a Danish-built Ægir-class Offshore Patrol Vessel named after Ægir, the king of the sea.
- ICGV Baldur (II) an Icelandic-built Baldur class Hydrographic survey and patrol boat named after Baldur, god of beauty and more.
- Currently operated aircraft
- TF-SIF is a Bombardier DHC-8-Q314 named after Sif, goddess and wife of Þór, the god of thunder and trollslaying. Used for maritime surveillance and replaced Fokker F-27.
- TF-LIF is an Aérospatiale AS-332L1 Super Puma named after Líf, the only woman who will survive Ragnarök. Used for maritime survellience and search and rescue operations.
- Currently operated leased aircraft
- TF-GNA and TF-SYN are on long term leased Eurocopter AS 332L1 Super Pumas from Airlift AS of Sweden and acquired provide assistance to TF-LIF.
- 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 boat.
- ICGV Árvakur, a lighthouse tender and patrol ship decommissioned in the 1970s.
- ICGV María Júlía, patrol ship named after one of those who financed her construction.
- ICGV Sæbjörg, a patrol and rescue ship.
- ICGV Ver, an armed trawler.
- Decommissioned aircraft
- TF-RAN (I) Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina, named after Rán.
- TF-SIF (I) Douglas C-54 Skymaster.
- TF-SYR Fokker F27 Friendship-200.
- TF-EIR Bell 47J.
- TF-GNA Sikorsky S-62.
- TF-HUG Bell 47G named after Huginn one of Odin's ravens who flew over the world every morning to gather information for him.
- TF-MUN Bell 47G named after Muninn one of Odin's ravens who flew over the world every morning to gather information for him.
- TF-GRO (I) Hughes 500C Defender.
- TF-RAN (II) Sikorsky S-76 Spirit.
- TF-GRO (II) Hughes 500C Defender.
- TF-GRO (III) Eurocopter AS 350B Ecureuil.
- TF-SIF (II) was an Aérospatiale SA 365N Dauphin II, which was operated from 1984 to 1985.
- TF-SIF (III) was an Aérospatiale SA 365N Dauphin II It was bought new in 1985 but was destroyed after an emergency sea landing in July 2007
- TF-SYN was a Fokker F-27-200 Friendship, which was bought new in 1976 and used until 2009. Currently preserved at the Aviation Museum of Akureyri.
- TF-EIR is an Aérospatiale SA-365N-1 Dauphin 2.
In addition the Coast Guard has rented or borrowed a number of civilian vessels and aircraft for shorter periods, which are not listed.
Small arms 
- AG-3 rifle.
- M14 rifle.
- Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.
- Steyr SSG 69 sniper rifle.
- Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun.
- HK21 machine gun.
- Browning M2 machine gun.
- Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle (retired).
Ranks of the Icelandic Coast Guard 
|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|
|Iceland||No Equivalent||No Equivalent||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|
|Ranks||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|
Future prospects 
||This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (November 2012)|
Currently, bidding for a contract to build a new 94-meter-long vessel for the Coast Guard is underway, as a replacement for V/s Óðinn which is going to become a museum piece. The new ship is based on the design of the Norwegian Harstad class offshore patrol vessels, although old Coast Guard officers such as CDR Höskuldur Skarphéðinsson, who was captain of V/s Baldur during the last Cod War, have called for more powerful vessels similar to the Danish Thetis class ships. Incidentally the design for a new Coast Guard vessel from 1997 was armed with an Otobreda 76 mm gun like the Danish ships, while Harstad class ships are armed with the same 40 mm Bofors gun that is already in use with the Icelandic Coast Guard. On December 1, 2006 the government approved the construction of this new ship which will be done by the Asmar shipbuilding company in Chile. The design for the ship was done by Rolls Royce in Norway and it will weight 4000 tons and thus considerably bigger than the Norwegian Harstad class, it will also be slightly faster. No information is available yet as for its armament. Although it has not been confirmed, it is believed likely that it will bear the name V/s Þór.
In an announcement on 24 March 2006, the Minister of justice and ecclesiastical affairs, Björn Bjarnason affirmed that, as a result of the withdrawal of the Iceland Defense Force, more helicopters will be rented for the Coast Guard, before September 2006, and that new ones will be bought later. Both France and Russia have declared their interest in selling helicopters and other defence materials.
On 23 May 2006, in an announcement, the Ministry of justice and ecclesiastical affairs declared their decision to rent two helicopters of the same type already operated by the Coast Guard. As the supply of Aerospatiale AS-332L1 Super Puma helicopters for renting is very limited it was decided to rent a single Aerospatiale SA-365N Dauphin II along with the Super Puma, increasing the size of the Coast Guard helicopter fleet by 100%. These helicopters will be rented for one year with an option to lengthen the renting period by six to twelve months.
Since this is only to be a temporary measure, plans for future composition of the helicopter fleet were released in June 2006.  The helicopers reported to be under consideration are the Eurocopter EC225, NH Industries NH90, Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland EH101. Although buying the NH 90 helicopters would require the Coast Guard helicopters to be reclassified as military helicopters.
See also 
- Lög um Landhelgisgæslu Íslands.
- Landhelgisgæsla íslands
- Landhelgisgæsluáætlun 2008 - 2010
- Varnarmálastofnun Íslands
- North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission
- Landhelgisgæsla Íslands: Til hamingju með daginn! Þór kominn til Íslands.
- Landhelgisgæsla Íslands: Nýtt varðskip Þór.
- Iceland Review
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Icelandic Coast Guard|
- Official Site in English
- Landhelgisgæsla Íslands in Icelandic.
- Coast Guard laws in Icelandic.
- Info on Icelandic Coast Guard
- Randburg discussion on Icelandic Coast Guard
- Ranks of the Icelandic Coast Guard