The UK and Norway have signed a security partnership to counter undersea threats and protect critical energy infrastructure in the wake of last year’s attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline.
The two nations agreed to increase cooperation to improve their ability to detect submarines, counter mine threats and generally enhance North Atlantic security.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his Norwegian counterpart Bjorn Arild Gram signed a statement of intent during a visit to the Maritime Operations Centre on the Northwood military base on Thursday.
Building on this, the new agreement will bolster the development of capabilities to protect shared interests in the North Sea while streamlining the process for other allies to join their activity, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Mr Wallace said: “Cooperating through the JEF (Joint Expeditionary Force) and the Northern Group with our long-standing defence partner and Nato ally Norway, we are heightening our joint capabilities to protect Western critical national infrastructure on the seabed.
“The attack on the Nord Stream pipeline has determined even closer collaboration across our collective assets to detect and defend against subsea threats and ensure continued North Atlantic security.”
Four leaks were discovered last September on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines that run from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.
The pipelines were not operational at the time because of disputes between Russia and the European Union over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but were filled with natural gas.
Mr Gram said: “It is important that democracies like the UK and Norway stand together when the rules-based international order is under pressure.
“The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year is a concrete reminder of what is at stake here.
“By working together, we can improve our ability to detect submarines, to counter mine threats and to protect critical infrastructure on the seabed.”