Olavsvern is a decommissioned Royal Norwegian Navy base located just outside the city of Tromsø and currently leased to state owned Russian research institutes. It is located along the European route E8 at the entrance to the Ramfjorden from the Balsfjorden.
The base is a massive complex constructed at a cost of 4 billion Kroner and burrowed into a mountain. It lost its status as an orlogsstasjon (navy base) in 2002 and was closed in 2009 by the government of Jens Stoltenberg.
On 14 March 2005, an accident in a scuba exercise inside the base led to the death of SBS commander Lieutenant Colonel Richard van der Horst.
The base was closed down in 2009 and put up for sale by the Norwegian government for 105 million Norwegian kroner (17.5 million USD) in 2011 and later sold for 38 million Kroner to a firm that announced its purpose as a maintenance base for oil platform rigs and drilling equipment. NATO had said that the Norwegian government could decommission the base as neither of them had a need for the base.
It has now been rented by companies from Russia linked to state-owned Gazprom . Suspected Russian military activity aboard research vessels has concerned military experts, with Norwegian retired vice admiral Jan Reksten, former military second in command stating, ""Russia is a country where the state has a say over all commercial or semi-state business. It's clear, very few people know what happens on these vessels," stating the sale of Olavsvern was "a double loss" as "Norway's armed forces lost an important base and now there are Russian vessels docked there."