Current Status of Polish Naval Modernization Program
(Source: Dziennik Zbrojny; published April 11, 2014)

By Mariusz Cielma
An accelerated purchase of a second Coastal Missile Squadron armed with Kongsberg NSM missiles, the resignation from the cruise on new submarines or plans to carry out a tender to build Swordfish (Miecznik) missile corvettes and Heron (Czajka) patrol ships, are just some of the information that is shown on the first of April this year during a meeting of the parliamentary sub-committee for the defense industries and the modernization of the Polish army.

In a meeting, besides parliament members, took part : Deputy Defense Minister Czeslaw Mroczek (responsible for purchases for the Armed Forces), vice admiral Waldemar Gluszko (Deputy Chief of General Staff Polish Armed Forces) and commodore Dariusz Olejnik (responsible for marine tender procedures in the Inspectorate of Armaments).

In the case of submarines (codename Orca, Orka in Polish) it is estimated to acquire two units until 2022 and a third unit by 2025. Until the 15th of April the Inspectorate of Armaments is leading in this topic a technical dialogue with the potential bidders. The start of a tender procedure for the construction of new submarines is expected in the third quarter of the year 2014. According to the minister Mroczek, in the Polish requirements there is no plan to arm submarines with maneuvering missiles (cruise). The ships will also not be built in Poland.

The second project concerns the construction of a Kormoran II minehunter (the program assumes the construction of three ships). The contract for its construction was signed on the 23rd of September 2013 with the Polish consortium headed by Shipbuilding Repair Shipyard in Gdansk. The delivery of the prototype ship should occur until November 2016. From May 2014 the production process of components of the ship will begin. According to the commodore Olejnik, Shipbuilding Repair Shipyard and the Naval Shipyard Gdynia (also participating in the consortium) mastered the technology of non-magnetic steel. Vice admiral Waldemar Gluszko explained that an important reason for choosing steel and not composites were lower operating costs of ships. The construction costs of the ship are only 25 percent of the total cost, and 75 percent are the costs of maintaining the ship after its construction. Additionally, ships built with non-magnetic steel will be easier to modernise in the future.

The third very important part of the modernization program of the Navy was the delivery in June 2013 the Coastal Missile Squadron. Achieving its full combat readiness, after the delivery of the final number of missiles Kongsberg NSM (in 2014 and 2015, it is planned shipment of 12 missiles per year), is to take place by 2015. Deputy minister Mroczek additionally informed that later this year a proceeding of acquiring a second Coastal Missile Squadron is to begin.

Commodore Olejnik reminded the parliament members about the contracts signed last year to build ORP Slazak patrol ship (modified Gawron corvette type). The project has been implemented in accordance with the schedule and there have been no delays. Commissioned ship to service in October 2016 year will be realized.

As far as the plans of acquiring three Miecznik corvettes and three Czapla patrol ships (with mine countermeasures) are concerned, commodore Olejnik said that the beginning of the tender is scheduled for the end of the second and the third quarter of the year 2014. This is to be to be a single procedure with a single operator to get the ships based on one platform. The concept of a common platform is understood as the same type of engine, navigation and communication system, so that it could follow the interchangeability of crews between these types of ships, without the need for additional retraining. There was also a presentation of the timetable for acquiring ships. Initially it was planned that they are to be built by 2025. After the technical dialogue it was concluded that will be better to give ships in an annual cycle, at first in years 2017, 2018 and 2019 Miecznik corvettes are to be given, and after them, in the years : 2020, 2021 and 2022 Czapla patrol ships. With this change the Navy by 2022 is expected to receive six combat ships, and not four as it was previously assumed.

During the meeting it was also recalled that last year a contract with Americans for the repair of the frigate ORP Gen.K.Pułaski was signed. The works will be completed in 2015 and docking repairs to be carried out in the Polish shipyard. It was also confirmed that there are no plans to overhaul our second unit an Oliver Hazard Perry class - frigate ORP Gen. T. Kosciuszko.

During the meeting it was also discussed the method of financing the program "Fighting the threats at sea". This is one of the most expensive modernization programs conducted by the Polish Defense Ministry. Its funding has already began in 2013. By 2014, there is a plan to earn more than 600 million PLN (145 million euro), and next year it is more than a billion PLN (240 million euro). By 2022 it is planned to spend 15.2 billion PLN (3.7 billion euro). The concentration of the expenses will take place in the years 2018-2021. The maximum annual expenditures during this period to is to reach 2.5 billion PLN (600 million euro).

Poland wants to implement the program in Polish industry. The aim is of the Inspectorate of Armaments is to get the level of at least 70 percent of "polonization". Currently for a prototype Kormoran II minehunter, Poland obtained the indicator of polonization (the acquisition or imposition of Polish elements) more than 50 percent, which the military considered a success, taking into consideration the long-standing gap in the field of shipbuilding by the Polish shipyards.


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