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MAI 1105 - Stefan Cel Mare

The Romanian Border Police inaugurated its OPV 6610, the Stefan cel Mare MAI 1105, in Constanta on September 22, 2010. "MAI 1105" is the first of a series of 38 ships to extend the fleet of the Romanian Border Police. This prestigious project, which was made possible through Schengen funding, started with the signing of the newbuild contract on January 12, 2009. The Stefan cel Mare MAI 1105 is the largest and most sophisticated vessel in the Romanian Border Police fleet and will patrol the border from her home port in Constanta.

Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) (reigned 14571504), was the great Moldovan hero. Moldova was once an independent medieval principality, at its strongest under Stephen the Great. Moldavia became a power formidable alike to Turk, Pole and Hungarian. Throughout the long reign of this voivode, which lasted forty-six years, from 1458 to 1504, his courage and resources never failed. In the early part of his reign he appears, in agreement with the Turkish sultan and the king of Poland, turning out the Hungarian vassal, the ferocious Vlad, from the Walachian throne, and annexing the coast cities of Kilia and Cetatca. The attempt to create a national style of architecture, based on Greek and Byzantine models, began under Stephen the Great of Moldavia (1457-1504), lasting until the 17th century, when it was arrested, first by political disorders, and, later, by the commercial development which caused a demand for cheap and rapid building.

Setting up the Schengen Area, expanded to 24 member states, starting on 21 December 2007, represents a step forward for freedom, security, and justice in Europe. Removal of controls at internal borders of the EU is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process. However, an area without internal borders, which was extended from 7 countries in 1995 to 24 countries at the end of 2007, a moment that represents a unique historical achievement, can not work without a sharing of responsibilities and without solidarity in the management of external borders.

The Romanian Border Police is a good example as regards the attraction of European funds, in the naval field alone registering over 80 million euro. The Off-Shore Patrol Vessel, which benefits from modern equipment necessary for ensuring a continuous surveillance of the maritime area, especially of the European Union external borders, completes the extension of the observation area at sea covered by the control and surveillance system SCOMAR, deployed by Romanian Border Police through a previous project, financed through European funds, being one of the best performing systems of surveillance of the European maritime borders.

The Romanian Border Police is a nation-wide body, acting as a police-type institution. It is the main institution in charge of border checks and surveillance of the state border, as well as preventing and countering cross-border crime, with special emphasis on illegal migration. Over 15,000 border policemen are the first to greet our visitors, as they are responsible for monitoring 3,147 km of borders, out of which 2,070 km represent the second longest EU external border. Our border security is based on the four tiers model of the Schengen Catalogue. This construction is foreseen in our Border Strategy and represents the basis of the Integrated System for Border Security (IBSS). Subsequent to its accession to the EU in 2007, the Romanian Border Police became a full member of Frontex.

The Border Police Territorial Inspectorates and the Coast Guard are distinct units within the General Inspectorate of Border Police, with established territorial competence. They are organized, internally, in services, offices and departments, which are specialized on fields of activity. Within the Territorial Inspectorates and the Coast Guard, territorial services, sectors and ship groups function as execution structures, with limited territorial competence. The Border Police Ship Groups (subordinated to the B.P. Territorial Inspectorates) are execution structures within the Coast Guard, with limited competence and organized on compartments, shifts and crews, according to the specific of the activities.

Romania, a Black Sea and Danube riparian state, decided in May 2011 to establish a Coast Guard a structure used by most EU member states that have coastal areas. The Guard is expected to enhance the efficiency of border control on Romanias and the EUs Eastern borders, and may facilitate this countrys Schengen accession. Romania would have a Coast Guard corps, after the Government has passed a bill to reorganize the Border Police in the counties next to the Black Sea coast, the Lower Danube and the Danube Delta. Most EU countries with access to the sea operate such structures, and the Union acknowledges the importance of Europes seas to the economic development and security of the continent.

Those were the arguments used by Interior Minister Traian Igas to explain the decision. He also said the Coast Guard would help fight illegal migration and cross-border crime. As regards the logistics of the new institutional structure, Minister Igas said Romania benefited from a Schengen facility able to secure the needed equipment.

The establishment of the Coast Guard is a measure intended to facilitate Romanias quick accession to the European border-free region. Romania views this as a means to dispel the reservations that some EU countries have with respect to the security of the Romanian Eastern borders, which have been EU borders since 2007. Such doubts had been expressed particularly by Germany, France and the Netherlands, and have been mainly related to the Romanian justice system, which they view as insufficiently reformed and vulnerable to corruption. Their opposition led to the postponement of Romanias Schengen accession, originally scheduled for March 2011, although Bucharest tried to explain that Romania met technical requirements, and the introduction of additional criteria in the assessment process was not just.

The new Rumanian OPV features the new Axebow hull design which is a follow-on to the "enlarged ship" concept and improves seakeeping, sustained speeds and comfort in high seas. Romanian Coast Gard (under the direction of the Romanian Border Police) ship: MAI 1105 "Stefan cel Mare". The Damen Offshore Patrol Vessel 6610 class (or 950) was built in Damen Shipyards Galati and delivered to Romania in September 2010. Due to it's axe bow, she has a distinct look compared to more traditional designs. The traveling wave generated by the bow is supposed to be make the ship more fuel efficient at cruising speeds. The Coast Gard is said to be extremely happy with the ship sea surveillance systems.

Stan Patrol SPA 5009 was delivered to the Republic of Cape Verde in December 2011. Based on Damens Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 5009, this vessel features a single Axe Bow which delivers high speeds with low fuel consumption. More than 60 Damen Sea Axe vessels have already been delivered as Crew Boats and FCS but the Cape Verde craft is the first Offshore Patrol Vessel version.

The Sea Axe concept was developed for patrol boats by a steam combining Damen Shipyards, Delft Technical University, the US Coast Guard, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN). Rather than bouncing over waves, the Sea Axe design cuts through them, limiting speed degradation due to wind and waves. Extensive Finite Element Analyses showed that steel was the best construction material for the 50.02m LOA Stan Patrol 5009, enabling it to sail at maximum speed under all circumstances without distressing the crew or the ship itself. The propulsion system sees four main engines delivering a total installed power of 4,324 bkW and driving four propellers to deliver a maximum speed of 23 knots. The very deep and high straight bow gives the axe bow hulls a very soft suspension and reduced drag, resulting in an 18% reduction in fuel bill compared to conventional high speed designs.

The Romanian Border Police operates under the Ministry of the Administration and the Interior. It is a specialised unit which duties include the surveillance and control of border crossings, the prevention of illegal migration and cross-border criminality. It also has responsibility for surveillance and control activities of places situated beyond national borders such as along the Danube River, Macin river-arm and Sulina Channel and for its territorial waters in the Black Sea, contiguous waters and the Romanian Exclusive Economic Zone. In total the length of the border the Romanian Border Police has under its responsibility is 3,150 km and this extensive border means that it has to tackle a wide range of problems such as illegal border crossing, illegal migration, drug trafficking, weapons, stolen vehicles and all forms of smuggling.

In 2000, some specialists from the Romanian Border Police were visiting Damens headquarters in Gorinchem to see Damen production facilities and patrol vessels under construction. Once Romania became an EU member in 2007, the Romanian Border Police was given the role of continuously defending the EU maritime border. Therefore programs for equipping the troops had to be redefined so they had the means to enable them to carry out the missions and tasks they are given, taking into account local weather and environmental conditions. As a result of all the efforts, the European Commission finally granted the funds for the purchase of a maritime surveillance vessel under the Schengen Facility funding program.

In the third quarter 2008 a public tender was launched and Damen was awarded the contract that was signed in January 2009. The building period that Damen was given was to a very tight deadline to comply with the Funding Memorandum; just 20 months and 19 days. The new vessel was intended as a replacement for another vessel within the existing fleet and it had to be able to perform for the current Romanian borders and for future EU borders. The vessel would be carrying out specific surveillance missions along the Romanian maritime border, the external borders of the EU and it would be defending the Romanian jurisdiction. M/s Stefan cel Mare MAI 1105 is the first vessel of this type.

Damen had done its utmost concerning the technical and operational training of the crew. Training took place in Galati but also at the locations of the equipment manufacturers such as MTu Germany for the main engines, Alphatron of the Netherlands for navigational and communication systems and Italys Oto Melara for the onboard weapons. In addition, this mutual collaboration went on during thewarranty period. The technical department of the Border Police, the vessels crew and the Damen warranty engineer were permanently in contact so any warranty problems can be efficiently and promptly solved.

M/v Stefan cel Mare was delivered in September 2010. The vessels technical and operational characteristics enable it to execute long-term missions, receive and transmit information to the command centre and to other intervention vessels. Therefore, the vessel is used during specific EU external borders surveillance operations that are organised by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.




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