The Absalon class are support ships of the Royal Danish Navy, commissioned in 2005. The two ships in the class may be described as an hybrid between a Frigate and military transport ship with multi role capabilities, with the capacity for being transformed from a combat ship with the firepower of a traditional frigate to a hospital ship within a day.
The class is based on a frigate-like design, but built with an internal multipurpose deck (flex deck) and a stern vehicle ramp. The ships can serve as command platforms for a staff of 75 persons (naval or joint staff) with a containerized command and control centre, transport and base of operations for a company-sized landing force of some 200 men 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. Furthermore, the flex deck can support a containerized hospital or simply transport a number of ISO standard containers or some 55 vehicles including, up to 7 MBTs. The ships can carry two LCPs (Storebro SB90E), two rigid hull inflatable boats and two EH101 helicopters.
The ships have been designed by a joint team from The Royal Danish Navy (RDN), The Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) and a group of contractors, primary Odense Maritime Technology (OMT) to The Royal Danish Navys requirements for a multi-mission frigate-like ship with emphasize on flexibility.
The ships are built to the naval standards of Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a international certification body and classification society, heavily utilizing STANAG.
The design is built with the aim of a large margin for growth over life-cycle, to a relatively low cost of ownership, with open architecture for ease of upgrades, with a high degree of automation allowing smaller crews, and utilizing StanFlex modules that can be shared across several ship classes in service with The Royal Danish Navy.
The hulls were built in highly competitive commercial shipyards using the latest development in the industries shipbuilding technology and cost-effective production procedures and processes - the outfitting and integration of sensor-, communication- and weapons systems was primary carried out "in-house" by the RDN and DALO.
The standard weapons of the Absalon class can be supplemented through the use of StanFlex mission modules. A special weapons deck (nicknamed the 'Bathtub') is designed with five StanFlex module slots. Because of the Bathtub's position, only missile-firing weapons modules can be installed.
In 2014 Jim Dorschner proposed that Canada replace its Iroquois-class destroyers with modified Absalon-class vessels. The main modification would be lengthening the vessels' hulls so the engine room could accommodate four engines, instead of the two engines Danish Absalons have.
The ships were named after two brothers, Esbern Snare and archbishop Absalon who led the naval campaigns in the 12th century against the Wends, a group of pagan Slavs in northern Germany.
Production started at Odense Steel Shipyard on 30 April 2003, with the lead ship Absalon laid down on 28 November that year. Esbern Snare followed on 24 March 2004; they were both launched later that year. They were delivered on 19 October 2004 and 17 April 2005 respectively, and commissioned on 10 January 2005 and 17 June 2005. At this point they had the StanFlex modules installed, but would have to wait until 2007 for full operational capability, with the installation of the 35mm CIWS, Mk32 torpedo launchers and Seagnat/SRBOC decoy systems.