ORP Ślązak Commissioned
(Source: Defence24.com; posted Dec. 02, 2019)
(Edited for style and grammar)
It’s taken 18 years since her keel was laid, but the Polish Navy has finally commissioned the ORP Slazak, originally built as a minehunter but since repurposed as a multipurpose corvette. (Defence24.com photo)
Eighteen years after the keel-laying ceremony, the ORP Ślązak patrol corvette has finally been commissioned into the Polish Navy. Her keel-laying ceremony took place on 28th November 2001 at the Gdynia Naval Shipyard, and the program was finally completed on November 28, 2019 with her commissioning in the presence of Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.

This is the second new vessel that has been transferred to the Polish Navy over the last two years. ORP “Kormoran” minehunter was commissioned on November 28, 2017.

Originally, Ślązak was designed as a multi-mission corvette with anti-aircraft and ASW assets, as well as anti-ship missiles. The keel for that vessel was laid back in 2001. Back then no decision was made with regards to missile systems and combat system. As the project was underfunded since the very beginning, it faced long construction delays, and many technical issues troubled the builders during the process.

In February 2012 the process came to a halt, but in late 2012 the decision was changed. Ultimately, an annex of the agreement concerning building of a patrol vessel instead of a corvette was signed in September 2013. The agreement has been a subject to annexation later on as well. Ultimately, the vessel passed her trials and was commissioned.

Ślązak is 95 meters long, 13 meters wide and has displacement of 1800 tonnes, with a top speed of around 30 knots. Her armament includes an 76 mm OTO Melara naval gun, two 30 mm Marlin-WS cannons, four Grom VSHORAD missile launchers and four .50-cal. machine guns.

The vessel features an expanded CIC and surveillance suite (SMART-S Mk 2 3D radar, STING-EO Mk 2 fire control radar and Mirador EO fire control/observation suite). In the future, should the Polish MoD want it, Ślązak can be easily fitted with a VLS solution for anti-aircraft missiles, as her design permits retrofit of such a system.

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Commissioning A Cutting-Edge Patrol Vessel That Showcases Poland’s Naval Aspirations
(Source: Thales; issued Nov. 28, 2019)
The country’s new naval patrol ship, ORP “Ślązak”, marks the country’s maritime aspirations and a return to naval shipbuilding. Following a ceremony at Gdynia, the Polish Navy took possession of the new ship in early November 2019, ready for formal commissioning on the 101st anniversary of the founding of the modern Polish navy.

The navy turned to Thales to help it realise its vision for a robust patrol capability. They had already collaborated on Poland’s Orkan class fast attack craft, bringing Thales’s breadth of systems know-how, and long experience in equipping leading navies, to the Polish fleet. Among the carefully scrutinised competitors for this project, the navy considered that Thales’s approach of combining technical excellence with a long-term commitment to its customers was the right fit to its values of technical rigour and deep understanding of its systems.

Building on an already successful partnership, the navy selected Thales to supply and integrate the entire mission suite for ORP Ślązak. The scope of the work was considerable, with Thales’s Tacticos Combat Management System (CMS)—with its open architecture and latest-sensor design—central to successfully integrating a range of leading-edge equipment on board. Thales’s Sting-EO Mk2 Fire control Radar, MIRADOR electro-optical system for observation and target tracking, LINK 11/16 tactical data link system, Automatic Identification System (AIS), and CCTV, are also integrated into the vessel.

Hand-in-glove working was essential to a project that marked Poland’s return to naval shipbuilding, something embodied in the strong working relations between Thales and local partners. The project was led by Inspektorat Uzbrojenia (Poland’s defence procurement agency), with Gdynia-based local players PGZ-SMW (a Polish shipbuilder) and Enamor (for navigation and communications integration) heavily involved.

But the partnership also looked beyond the immediate project and towards building the country’s future defence expertise. Thales worked closely with Polish industrial players to transfer technology and knowledge for the long term, with the focus on areas like combat system integration and software development.

The net result? ORP Ślązak was delivered to the customer’s requirements, with the confidence the Polish Navy placed in Thales as its main systems partner borne out in successful and highly satisfactory acceptance tests. The ship’s commissioning represents another milestone in Poland’s enhancement of its maritime capability, and in Thales’s developing role in helping deliver this.

It’s a partnership set to continue into the future, with an upgrade of the navy’s Orkan class ships currently under exploration.

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