On Dec. 11, the Estonian Navy received the two force protection vessels procured this Spring within the framework of the current four-year development plan of Estonian Ministry of Defence. The two boats are built by Baltic Workboats AS, a company located in the island of Saaremaa, Estonia.
"I am confident that the Saaremaa shipbuilders´ vessels are among the world class, and it is vital that one of the Navy's critical capability gaps has now been filled. It is also significant that the procurement of the boats helps to support Estonian industry in this current economic climate," Minister of Defence of Estonia Jüri Luik said. According to Luik, the vessels have been acquired at an optimal price, are seaworthy with modern equipment and armaments and if necessary, can also be used in solving civillian crises.
The main function of the boats is to ensure force protection at sea and in ports of NATO and Partner naval vessels visiting Estonia. The boats can also support in other tasks as identifying foreign vessels, commanding units at sea, conducting exercises, securing live-fire exercises, providing navigation training for the cadets, as well as support other state agencies, especially the Police and Border Guard.
"In addition to force protection tasks, it is important to note that the low draft and good manoeuvrability of the vessels gives the Navy an opportunity to get acquainted with the Estonian coastal sea and small ports, so far it has been limited because the ships we currently have do not fit to most Estonian small harbours,” Commodore Jüri Saska, Commander of the Estonian Navy said.
The boats are 18 metres in length, have partial ballistic protection and are equipped with two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns and have a remote-controlled weapon position. The vessels have maximum speed of over 30 knots. The boats are scheduled enter into service in 2021. The transaction is valued at EUR 3.9 million. Baltic Workboats AS has nearly 20 years of experience, similar type of patrol boats are also being built for the Omani police.
"Normally, in the case of shipbuilding, the schedule would be about 12-16 months from the contract to the launch, we managed to do it in 8 months. Similar delivery of RWS systems usually takes 18 months, we received the systems in 6 months. All this shows the high competence and efficiency of small Estonia. In addition, it is important to emphasize that thanks to this project, Estonian shipbuilders have acquired a warship in their portfolio, which opens a completely new market and opportunities for them. Without a domestic reference, access to this market is almost impossible, " Asko Kivinuk, Head of the Air Force and Navy Procurement at Centre for Defence Investment added.