The Absalon class can be equipped for naval warfare, land attack, strategic sealift missions or as a command platform.
The Absalon class, consisting of the Absalon L16 and the Esbern Snare L17, are among the largest surface ships ever built for the Royal Danish Navy. The two ships were commissioned in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and are serving as flexible support ships. Some documents classify them as transport frigates while others consider them combat support ships. In the Royal Danish Navy, the Absalon class is classified as “Command and Support” ships.
The Absalon class can be equipped for naval warfare, land attack, strategic sealift missions or as a command platform. They can also be configured as hospital ships or for emergency disaster relief, with the capacity to be transformed from a combat ship with the firepower of a traditional frigate to a hospital ship within a day. The Danish design resembles the French La Fayette-class frigate but has a different mission description. The vessel has a full load displacement of 6,600 tons, a length of 137 m, a beam of 19.5 m, and a draft of 6.3 m.
The class is based on a frigate-like design, but built with an internal multipurpose deck and a stern vehicle ramp. The ships can serve as command platforms for a staff of 75 persons with a containerized command and control centre, transport and base of operations for a company-sized landing force of some 200 soldiers with vehicles.
Alternatively, the flex deck can be used for mine-laying operations with a capacity of some 300 mines, or be fitted out for mine-clearing operations and launch and recover mine detecting and clearing equipment via a retractable gantry crane, adjacent to the stern vehicle ramp, which also is used for launching and recovering the fast landing craft.
The flex deck can support a containerized hospital or simply transport a number of ISO standard containers or some 55 vehicles, including up to seven MBTs. The ships can carry two landing craft, personnel, two rigid hull inflatable boats and two EH101 helicopters.
The ship design incorporates stealth characteristics for low acoustic, radar, visual and infrared signatures. Shock protection and isolation are to STANAG 4142, 4137 and 4549. Parts of the hull are armour protected to STANAG 4569 standard. Manned areas are protected against nuclear biological and chemical warfare to STANAG 4447.
The ship has a Terma C-Flex Combat management and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence system. Systematic and Terma developed the software for the C-Flex and Maersk Data Defence was contracted for the development and supply of the hardware and system consoles.