The Norwegian armed forces are keeping track of Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov as it is transiting close to Norway’s coast enroute to missions across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.
While the movements of Russian ships through the Norwegian Sea are not unusual, this passage stands out due to the fact that Admiral Gorshkov is the first Russian warship to deploy with the Zircon hypersonic missile system onboard.
This is according to the Kremlin, which touted the ship’s departure from the Severomorsk port with Zircon missiles on January 4.
“Today we have an important, if not landmark, event: the frigate Admiral Gorshkov is departing for a long-distance naval mission,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said.
“There is nothing unusual here, this is common practice; but this time the ship is equipped with the cutting-edge Zircon hypersonic missile system, which has no analogue.”
“I know that such powerful weapons will make it possible to reliably defend Russia from potential external threats and will help ensure our national interests.”
Admiral Gorshkov supported the Zircon missile testing through the at-sea trials phase, which began in 2020. Just a year later, the missile system was declared ready for operational use.
With a range of a stated 1,000 kilometers, the missile is poised to be carried on surface warships but also on submarines.
Norway’s defense ministry noted it is aware of the ship’s movements and is keeping track of it with P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft and Royal Norwegian Navy vessels.
It also noted that the Russian frigate sails completely legally and in accordance with the “Incident at Sea Agreement”. Admiral Gorshkov is accompanied by the Northern Fleet tanker Kama on its deployment.
While the ship’s passage is legal, the circumstances under which it is sailing to the Mediterranean Sea, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in mind, are poised to draw attention.