Slædepatruljen Sirius

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Slædepatruljen Sirius
Active 1941 - Present
Country  Denmark
 Greenland
Branch Arctic Command
Type Reconnaissance
Role

Primary tasks:

Size 14
Garrison/HQ Daneborg (74° 18'N 20° 14'W)
Engagements World War II

Slædepatruljen Sirius (Sirius Sledge Patrol) or informally Siriuspatruljen (Sirius Patrol) is a unique elite Danish navy unit that conducts long-range reconnaissance patrolling, and enforces Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness of Northern and Eastern Greenland, an area that includes the largest national park in the world.[1] Patrolling is usually done in pairs, sometimes for four months and often without additional human contact.

The Sirius Patrol has the ability to engage militarily, and has done so historically. Unlike other military units, however, the Sirius Patrol is not expected to engage in combat operations. Its purpose is solely to maintain Danish sovereignty and police the area of responsibility.[2] The physical and psychological demands for acceptance into the unit are exceptional. Crown Prince Frederik patrolled with the Sirius Patrol.[3]

History[edit]


The unit, then known as the North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol, was activated in the summer of 1941 during World War II to prevent German landings along the northeast coast of Greenland. At the time, the Germans established a number of secret weather stations on the eastern coast of the island as this would provide them with invaluable meteorological information both to assist their U-boat campaign and to predict the weather situation in the European theatre. Thus the patrol's activities to eliminate these stations and deny Germany such information had significant implications both for the Battle of the Atlantic in the sea and for air and land fighting in Europe, despite the enormous distance of Greenland from the main theatres of war.

The patrol discovered the German weather station Holzauge at Hansa Bay on the northeast coast of Sabine Island, which was subsequently destroyed by United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombers from Iceland. During the war, the unit suffered one man killed in action. Two others were captured by German forces, but escaped and rejoined the patrol shortly afterward.[4]

In 2008, the National Bank of Denmark issued a 10 DKK commemorative coin of Sirius.[5]

Organisation[edit]

Beginning in October 2012, the newly formed Joint Arctic Command is responsible for Sirius.[6] The sled unit used to be operationally under the Greenland Command, and administratively under the Royal Danish Navy. The patrol represents Denmark's military presence in the northern East Greenland.

The patrol operates in the northern, and northeastern part of Greenland from the west coast of Hall Land (Petermann Fjord and Glacier)81°04′N 61°40′W / 81.067°N 61.667°W / 81.067; -61.667 to Kap Biot north of Fleming Fjord 71°53′N 22°33′W / 71.883°N 22.550°W / 71.883; -22.550. The flying distance between the two points is about 2100 km, but the length along the coastline is far greater, around 16000 km. The Greenland ice sheet is not a part of the patrolled area.

The unit is stationed at Daneborg (74°11′N 20°08′W / 74.18°N 20.14°W / 74.18; -20.14), and maintains personnel at Station Nord, Danmarkshavn, and Mestersvig. The unit uses more than 50 depot huts scattered across the patrolled area. The depot huts are resupplied by small boats in the southern area, and by aircraft in the northern part.

The Sirius Patrol consists of six dogsled teams for the duration of the year, each consisting of two men, and 11 to 15 dogs. When traveling, each team carries approximately 350–500 kg, depending on the distance to the next depot. Currently there are 14 officers and men serving with the Sirius Patrol.

Responsibilities[edit]

Sledge patrolling is divided into two periods. Depending on when the ice becomes thick enough, the autumn patrol starts sometime in November, and lasts until late December. The sun sets for the last time around the beginning of November, and in the increasing darkness the winter storms get progressively worse, and more frequent. Getting home before Christmas is therefore not always possible for members of the unit. Around the end of January, when the weather stabilizes, and the sun reappears, the longer journeys begin and last until June, when the ice begins to break apart and drift southwards. During this period, the six sledge teams will cover a large part of the coastline, and within a period of 3 to 4 years all areas will be visited.

Recruitment and training[edit]

Candidates for the Sirius Patrol must have completed their compulsory service. At the try out seven men are selected to start on about 6 months of various training courses. Women can apply but none have yet.[7]

  • Survival course in Greenland (5 weeks)
  • Shooting course
  • Demolition course
  • Engine and mechanics course
  • Reconnaissance course
  • Firefighter course
  • Radio and communications course
  • First aid course
  • Extended first aid course
  • Sewing course
  • Truck course

The courses run from December to the end of May. The final group consisting of twelve men is picked as late as 2–3 weeks before they depart to Greenland for 26 consecutive months.

Equipment[edit]

Sirius Patrol tent setup

Due to the very special nature of Sirius Sledge Patrol operations, a wide range of unique equipment is required that is not normally used within the Danish armed forces.[2][8]

The weapons carried also reflect the harsh conditions. Among the equipment used by the Sirius Sledge Patrol is the M1917 Enfield bolt-action rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield, known in Danish service as the Gevær M/53 (17), and Glock 20 pistols chambered in 10mm Auto.

The reason for changing their sidearm is their previous Pistol M/49 sidearms chambered in 9mm Parabellum proved insufficient against the polar bears encountered.[9]

"The weapons carried also reflect the harsh conditions. Only bolt-action rifles (M17/M53) performs reliably. The standard SIG210 Neuhausen sidearm was recently replaced by the 10mm Glock 20, as the stopping power of multiple 9mm rounds proved to be insufficient against a polar bear."[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nationalpark i Grønland - verdens største naturreservat
  2. ^ a b Formål og opgaver Forsvaret, Grønlands Kommando
  3. ^ Slædepatruljen Sirius Den Digitale Slæderejse - Indsigt
  4. ^ Sledge Members
  5. ^ "Sirius". National Bank of Denmark. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  6. ^ GERARD O’DWYER. "Denmark Boosts Resources for Arctic Security" DefenseNews, 8 October 2013. Accessed: 20 October 2013.
  7. ^ Finkel, Michael; Hoffmann, Fritz (2012). "The Cold Patrol". National Geographic (National Geographic Society) 221 (1): 82–95. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  8. ^ DeMille, Dianne; Priestley, Stephen (December 2005). "Permanent Presence: Recruiting, Training, & Equipping Rangers in the Arctic". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 2010-07-08. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 
  9. ^ "Denmark's Arctic Assets and Canada's Response – Sovereignty and Strategic Resources of the High Arctic". Canadian American Strategic Review. May 2005. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20. "The advantage of an ‘old fashion’ bolt-action rifle in the high arctic is obvious – no matter how cold or icy it gets, that bolt can be worked by the shooter. Under severe arctic winter conditions, the bolts of automatic rifles may jam. The use of ‘full-sized’ cartridges was dictated by two factors: range and effectiveness against polar bears. Most Danish units use 9mm automatics like the CF but the Sirius Patrol learned through hard experience that 9mms had insufficient 'stopping power' to deal with angry adult polar bears. As a result, Sirius Patrol members carry a more powerful 10mm pistols for self-defence, employing the 10mm Glock 20 automatic." 
  10. ^ "Denmark: Special Operations and Counterterrorist Forces". Specialoperations.com. 2000. Archived from the original on 2001-01-13. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 

External links[edit]