Norway cave could be the next US submarine base in the Arctic


A once-secret cave facility in Norway could be the next Arctic base for US Navy submarines, with final talks over a transfer of control over the base said to be underway.

Senior American military officials have made multiple recent visits to the privately owned Olavsvern base near Tromso, and a deal to transfer control of the base to the Norwegian military for use by NATO allies — including the U.S. – could be finalized as soon as Thursday, according to Norwegian media outlet NRK TV. 

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to inquiries from DailyMail.com regarding American interest in the base. However, in August, the USS Seawolf fast-attack submarine made a rare public visit to the area near Olavsvern, photos of which were released by the Navy.

Military experts say the deepwater cave facility above the Arctic Circle could provide a powerful base of operations for expanded American submarine patrols in the resource-rich Arctic, where Russia has been aggressively expanding its military presence.

The once-secret Cold War Olavsvern base (above before being decommissioned in 2009) in Norway could be the next Arctic base for US Navy submarines, with final talks over a transfer of control over the base said to be underway

Senior American military officials have made multiple recent visits to the privately owned Olavsvern base near Tromso, and a deal to transfer control of the base to the Norwegian military for use by NATO allies is close, Norwegian media report

Senior American military officials have made multiple recent visits to the privately owned Olavsvern base near Tromso, and a deal to transfer control of the base to the Norwegian military for use by NATO allies is close, Norwegian media report

Military experts say the deepwater cave facility above the Arctic Circle could provide a powerful base of operations for expanded American submarine patrols in the resource-rich Arctic

Military experts say the deepwater cave facility above the Arctic Circle could provide a powerful base of operations for expanded American submarine patrols in the resource-rich Arctic

In August, the USS Seawolf fast-attack submarine made a rare public visit to the area near Olavsvern, photos of which were released by the Navy

In August, the USS Seawolf fast-attack submarine made a rare public visit to the area near Olavsvern, photos of which were released by the Navy

During the Cold War, Norway constructed the massive Olavsvern complex in secret, carving submarine docks into the side of a mountain, including a dry dock capable of accommodating six submarines simultaneously.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO and the Norwegian military lost interest in maintaining the base. It was decommissioned in 2009, and later sold online on the Norwegian version of eBay for about $5 million.

The new private owners, Olavsvern Group Ltd, billed the facility as a maintenance base for Norway’s booming oil industry, saying they would use it to service oil platform rigs and drilling equipment.

However, they drew outrage in 2015 when it emerged that Olavsvern base was being rented out to Russian ‘research’ vessels, and three Russian ships spent the entire winter docked deep within the mountain hideaway.

Last year, WilNor, a subsidiary of the Norwegian maritime services company Wilhelmsen Group, acquired 66 percent of the stock in Olavsvern Group Ltd, giving it majority control of the former base. 

The acquisition was reportedly at the request of the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization, and is believed to be the first step toward resuming Norwegian military control of the base, as Wilhelmsen has a long history as a military contractor.

During the Cold War, Norway constructed the massive Olavsvern complex in secret, carving submarine docks into the side of a mountain, including a dry dock capable of accommodating six submarines simultaneously

During the Cold War, Norway constructed the massive Olavsvern complex in secret, carving submarine docks into the side of a mountain, including a dry dock capable of accommodating six submarines simultaneously

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO and the Norwegian military lost interest in maintaining the base. It was decommissioned in 2009, and later sold online on the Norwegian version of eBay for about $5 million

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO and the Norwegian military lost interest in maintaining the base. It was decommissioned in 2009, and later sold online on the Norwegian version of eBay for about $5 million

The private owners drew outrage in 2015 when it emerged that Olavsvern base was being rented out to Russian 'research' vessels, and three Russian ships spent the entire winter docked deep within the mountain hideaway

The private owners drew outrage in 2015 when it emerged that Olavsvern base was being rented out to Russian ‘research’ vessels, and three Russian ships spent the entire winter docked deep within the mountain hideaway

Last year, WilNor, a subsidiary of the Norwegian maritime services company Wilhelmsen Group, acquired 66 percent of the stock in Olavsvern Group Ltd, giving it majority control of the former base

Last year, WilNor, a subsidiary of the Norwegian maritime services company Wilhelmsen Group, acquired 66 percent of the stock in Olavsvern Group Ltd, giving it majority control of the former base

Wilhelmsen has a long history as a military contractor, and is reportedly in final talks in a deal for the Norwegian military to take back control of the mountain submarine base

Wilhelmsen has a long history as a military contractor, and is reportedly in final talks in a deal for the Norwegian military to take back control of the mountain submarine base

The base also has a barracks with 78 single rooms and 15 two-bedroom apartments for housing troops, as well as exercise facilities, communal kitchens, recreation areas and laundry facilities

The base also has a barracks with 78 single rooms and 15 two-bedroom apartments for housing troops, as well as exercise facilities, communal kitchens, recreation areas and laundry facilities

In August, the Navy took the unusual step of publishing photos of the USS Seawolf operating near Olavsvern, as submarine operations are usually closely held.

The Seawolf was commissioned in 1997 and is the lead submarine of its class. Seawolf-class submarines are exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors. 

Though they lack vertical launch systems for ballistic missiles, they are armed with eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room. 

‘USS Seawolf’s deployment from Bangor, Washington, to the U.S. 6th Fleet demonstrates the Submarine Force’s global reach and commitment to provide persistent and clandestine undersea forces worldwide to execute our unique missions with unrivaled readiness,’ said Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, Commander, Submarine Forces, in a statement at the time. 

‘Our undersea warriors are the best in the world in submarine warfare and are equipped with unmatched capabilities designed to enhance our Navy and multiply the Joint Force’s effectiveness in competition and conflict.’ 

Blast doors are seen at an entrance to the Olasvern submarine dock. On Saturday, NRK TV reported that 'an agreement on the return of Olavsvern to the Armed Forces through a lease agreement may be ready as early as next week, and this is happening as a result of pressure from the US Navy'

Blast doors are seen at an entrance to the Olasvern submarine dock. On Saturday, NRK TV reported that ‘an agreement on the return of Olavsvern to the Armed Forces through a lease agreement may be ready as early as next week, and this is happening as a result of pressure from the US Navy’

In August, the Navy took the unusual step of publishing photos (above) of the USS Seawolf operating near Olavsvern, as submarine operations are usually closely held

In August, the Navy took the unusual step of publishing photos (above) of the USS Seawolf operating near Olavsvern, as submarine operations are usually closely held

The Seawolf was commissioned in 1997 and is the lead submarine of its class. Seawolf-class submarines are exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors

The Seawolf was commissioned in 1997 and is the lead submarine of its class. Seawolf-class submarines are exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors

Though they lacks vertical launch systems for ballistic missiles, Seawolf-class subs are armed with eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room. Above the USS Seawolf near Olasvern in August

Though they lacks vertical launch systems for ballistic missiles, Seawolf-class subs are armed with eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room. Above the USS Seawolf near Olasvern in August

On Saturday, NRK TV reported that ‘an agreement on the return of Olavsvern to the Armed Forces through a lease agreement may be ready as early as next week, and this is happening as a result of pressure from the US Navy.’  

Norwegian Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen told the broadcaster that there is an currently an agreement that U.S. reactor-powered vessels can use Grotsund harbor a little north of the center of Tromso.

‘The decision to use Grotsund harbor was made after consultation with the American authorities. When it comes to Olavsvern, there is currently talk of storing equipment for the Norwegian Army and Home Guard, ‘ writes Bakke-Jensen.

However, American military officials are reportedly keen to gain access to Olavsvern, which would allow submarines to quickly and secretly deploy in the Arctic.

The Norwegian broadcaster reports that a final decision about American use of the base will be up to political authorities in that country.  

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