"Marjata" at port in Kirkenes, a few kilometers from the border to Russia. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Norway changes homeport for spy-ship, away from Russian border

Ministry of Defense confirms that Harstad is the new official homeport for the intelligence ship «Marjata» that until now has called on Kirkenes for crew change and supplies.
July 10, 2020

“From next year the Intelligence Service moves the homeport to Harstad,” head of communication with the Ministry of Defense, Ingrid Dåsnes, writes in an op-ed published by AldriMer.no, a news site focusing on military and security.

Also, the office organizing the crew will be moved from Kirkenes to Harstad, Dåsnes writes.

Packed with radar- and communication humps on the roof, the 125-meter long new “Marjata” came to Kirkenes in spring 2016. The ship is the fourth in a row named “Marjata” with the aim to monitor Russian military activities in the Barents Sea region.

At the time of arrival to Kirkenes four years ago, the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) told the Barents Observer “Marjata will still have Kirkenes as home port.”

Last year, NIS, could no longer confirm that Kirkenes would continue to be home port for the ship. Kirkenes is less than 8 km from the border to Russia’s militarized Kola Peninsula.

Over the last few years, the region of eastern Finnmark, and Kirkenes in particular, has been troubled by Russian jamming of GPS signals.

Already in 2017, NIS confirmed to the Barents Observer that other parts of its activities were to be moved away from Kirkenes to Vadsø, a small town across the Varanger fjord, further away from the Russian border.

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Norway’s older military spy ship, now named «Eger» also makes port calls to Harstad. The ship is mainly operating in the Norwegian Sea were Russian submarine activities have increased in the latest years.

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