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Polish Navy / Polska Marynarka Wojenna - PMW
Marynarka Wojenna Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej - MW RP

During both the communist and post-communist eras, the Polish navy received less emphasis and funding than other combat branches. Because the Polish navy had usually purchased the simplest and cheapest equipment offered by the Soviet Union, all other navies on the Baltic Sea were considered superior to Poland's.

The assigned role of the Polish navy in the Warsaw Pact was to provide amphibious landing and mine warfare capability in the Baltic Sea; postcommunist restructuring deemphasized amphibious operations in favor of the navy's fast attack and patrol craft components. In 1992 the only short-term change envisioned for the navy, however, was retirement of antiquated equipment, much of which would not be replaced. To enhance coastal security, in 1989 military planners proposed Polish participation in a regional Baltic defense fleet.

Naval personnel in 1992 totaled 19,300 (including naval aviation forces), of which 10,600 were conscripts. Total naval personnel had dropped from 22,000 since 1981. Another 1,800 individuals served in the coast guard, which operated forty small coastal craft; in wartime that component would be integrated into naval operations. Naval bases were located at Gdynia, Hel (just west of Gdynia), and winouj cie, with a coast guard and border station at Kolobrzeg.

The origin and sophistication of Polish naval craft varied widely. Of the three Polish submarines existing in the late 1980, all built in the Soviet Union, the one Orzel (corresponding to the Soviet Kilo model) vessel is the most advanced; two Wilkclass (Soviet Foxtrot) submarines are older and noisier. All three vessels feature 533mm torpedo tubes. Because they were designed for ocean combat, the three submarines maneuver clumsily in the Baltic Sea in comparison with the smaller submarines of the other Baltic nations. One Polish submarine was retired between 1989 and 1992.

According to the concept of development of the Polish fleet as of 2013, in 2030 the Polish Navy arsenal is to have the following:

  • Firepower, three coastal defense ships, three submarines, three patrol ships, six helicopters Version of anti-submarine and coastal Missile Squadron;
  • The forces of survival and security forces: three ships-term struggle with unmanned systems, exploration and mine, two anti-aircraft missiles to guard naval bases;
  • Forces rescue: two ships, rescue and salvage, and seven helicopters;
  • Forces reconnaissance: two ships reconnaissance, unmanned reconnaissance aircraft and ten patrol reconnaissance aircraft;
  • Forces support: logistics support ship, battle command ship, hydrographic ship and floating station demagnetyzacyjna and operational support ship.

In order to maintain allied standards the Navy introduced two "Oliver Hazard Perry" missile frigates (ORP "Gen. K. Pulaski" and ORP " Gen. T. Kosciuszko") and three new subs ORP "Sokol", "Sep" and "Bielik" (meaning birds of prey). Other new units are the logistic support ship ORP "Kontradmiral X. Czernicki", which took part in 2003 in the Iraqi mission. The Polish Navy Shipyard in Gdynia commenced construction of a multitask corvette. Three MCM units and two rescue/salvage ships as well as the "Kilo" class submarine ORP "Orzel" (yet another bird of prey, meaning "Eagle") have been modernized. Last but not least one has to mention modernization of transport ships with mine-laying capabilities plus missile ships "Orkan" class.

ORP is the acronym for Okret Rzeczypospolite Polskiej - ship of the Polish Republic. Polish names of types of ships come from foreign languages (mostly French and English), although the classification of units are different. This is quite natural, given the huge disparities in the composition of the fleets. Two ships of the type which in Poland could be considered torpedo boat destroyers while France (where it originated) would be classified as torpedo boats - indeed it had a displacement of less than 2000 tons. Similar differences are included in the case of units of type Grom: in Poland, they were considered a torpedo boat destroyer, in England, owing to displacement exceeding 2000 tons, they were large destroyers (destroyer leaders).



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