UK sells two Royal Navy minehunters to Romania

HMS Blyth and HMS Pembroke, which patrolled the seas as Sandown Class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs), have been sold to Romania by UK’s Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA).

Royal Navy

Minehunters which served the Royal Navy around the globe will have a new lease of life with one of the UK’s NATO allies, Romania.

HMS Blyth was decommissioned in 2021, while HMS Pembroke will be retired early next year. On behalf of Navy Command, Ships Support team has been working with Babcock to refurbish the minehunters before they are transferred to their new owners.

The Royal Navy will provide individual operator and maintainer training via Navy International Defence Training (IDT), and collective training via Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST).

“Given the current geo-political climate, the UK’s relationship with its NATO allies is more important than ever. This agreement with Romania is the latest strategic relationship we have strengthened, providing their navy with a new capability and, crucially, making a real contribution to security in the Black Sea region,” James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, said.

The former Sandown Class ships are 52.5 meters long, weigh 485 tonnes and have a range of more than 2,500 nautical miles without refuelling.

They use high-definition sonar to scour the world’s seabeds for mines and lost explosives, which are then safely destroyed by the ship’s clearance diving teams or the ATLAS Seafox mine disposal system.

They also worked closely with regional and coalition partners to maintain the security of the sea lanes of communications, crucial to international shipping and the global economy.

HMS Blyth was one of four Navy minehunters permanently stationed in the Gulf. She was also deployed in the Baltic Sea and for domestic tasking.

The outgoing Sandown Class will be replaced by autonomous mine-hunting systems operating from RFA Stirling Castle, the new “mothership” bought by DE&S as a commercial vessel from Norwegian company Island Offshore before being modified for her future role.

HMS Blyth was transferred to the Romanian Navy this month, while HMS Pembroke will be transferred next spring.

n the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drifting mines pose a direct threat to Black Sea states, and sea lines of communication. This sale will enable Romania to make a direct, positive contribution to the maritime security of the region.