The world’s biggest warship, the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, arrived in Oslo on Wednesday for a stopover criticised by neighbouring Russia as an “illogical and harmful” show of force.
The 337-metre (1,106-foot) nuclear-powered ship sailed into the Oslo Fjord under escort, where it will stay for several days before heading to the Arctic for military exercises, according to Norwegian media.
“Norway is a strategic partner in the continued efforts to maintain a secure and stable Arctic and North Atlantic region that benefits global order,” Erik J. Eslich, commander of US Carrier Strike Group 12, said in a statement.
The Norwegian military said in a statement “the aircraft carrier’s visit and presence provides… a unique opportunity to develop our cooperation and work closely together with our most important ally, the United States”.
Norwegian Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said “this is the concrete expression of our close relationship with the United States and demonstrates the will for collective defence and deterrence”.
The highly publicised visit, which comes amid heightened tensions between the West and Russia over the war in Ukraine, was denounced by the Russian embassy.
“There are no issues in the North that require a military solution, nor issues that require outside intervention,” Russian embassy spokesman Timur Chekanov told AFP by email.
“Considering that Oslo admits that Russia poses no direct military threat to Norway, such shows of force seem illogical and harmful,” he added.
NATO member Norway shares a land border with Russia as well as a maritime border in the Barents Sea.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, which can transport up to 90 aircraft and helicopters, is expected to remain moored in the Norwegian capital for several days.
A vast airspace and sea ban has been implemented around the vessel.
According to online daily Barents Observer, the ship is expected to head for the Arctic in several days ahead of the May 29 start of the Arctic Challenge Exercise, gathering 150 aircraft from 14 Western countries.