Ukrainian Navy to receive two minehunting ships from UK

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed plans to transfer two Royal Navy’s minehunter ships to the Ukrainian Navy.

UK Ministry of Defence

Two Royal Navy minehunter ships are being transferred from the Royal Navy to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in a move to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to operate at sea. Ukraine will procure two Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) through UK Export Finance in London.

The announcement was made as the UK and Norway launched the maritime support initiative, Maritime Capability Coalition.

New coalition will deliver long-term support to Ukraine, including training, equipment, and infrastructure to bolster security in the Black Sea.

Ukraine’s economy continues to be impacted by Putin’s blockade in the Black Sea, which has significantly reduced the country’s ability to move vital exports by sea. Strengthening the AFU’s maritime capabilities, in particular countering the threat from Russian sea mines, will help restore Ukraine’s maritime exports.

This builds on the UK Foreign Secretary’s visit to Ukraine last month where he welcomed the launch of the new ‘Unity Facility’ between UK company Marsh McLennan and the Ukrainian Government, which will provide affordable shipping insurance for grain and other critical food supplies globally from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, actively support international efforts to alleviate the global food crisis.

The new Maritime Capability Coalition will build the support that the UK, Norway, and others are providing to Ukraine. This will be long term to help Ukraine transform its navy, making it more compatible with western allies, more interoperable with NATO, and bolstering security in the Black Sea.

Defence Secretary Shapps said: “These minehunters will deliver vital capability to Ukraine which will help save lives at sea and open up vital export routes, which have been severely limited since Putin launched his illegal full-scale invasion.”

“This capability boost marks the beginning of a new dedicated effort by the UK, Norway and our allies to strengthen Ukraine’s maritime capabilities over the long term, enhancing their ability to operate in defending their sovereign waters and bolstering security in the Black Sea. As an island nation with a proud maritime history, the UK and Royal Navy are particularly well-placed to support this endeavour, which will form part of a series of new coalitions formed between allies to ensure an enduring military commitment in support of Ukraine.”

Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said:  “The defence of Ukraine is important for Euro-Atlantic security. Now The United Kingdom, Norway and other countries will support Ukraine in developing their navy. Our goal is to contribute to building a lasting Ukrainian naval capability. In the further work, I hope Norway, as a sea-faring nation, can contribute with maritime expertise, new technological solutions and innovative thinking.”

The new maritime coalition will work closely with the Ukrainian Navy and Ministry of Defence to develop a number of capabilities, including the rapid development of a maritime force in the Black Sea, continuing to develop a Ukrainian Marine Corps, and river patrol craft to defend coastal and inland waterways.

Agreed during recent meetings of the 50-nation strong Ukraine Defence Contact Group, it forms part of a series of Capability Coalitions to strengthen Ukraine’s operations in other domains including on land and in the air. 

The UK and Norway, together with other international partners, have already helped train hundreds of Ukrainian marines and aim to build on this work.