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Ukrainian Navy - Modernization

Is it the destiny of Ukraine to be a maritime state or a state by the sea? The quantity of warships and boats of the Naval Forces of Ukraine in 1997 was reduced by more than 40%; and auxiliaries were cut in half. According to the MoD 2015 prognoses, the percentage will be 60% and 75% respectively. Today in the Black Sea Region, only the Naval Forces of Georgia yield to the Naval Forces of Ukraine as to their quantity and quality indexes. The Ministry of Defense and General Staff acknowledge that only one fourth of weapons and military equipment of the Naval Forces are contemporary.

After the division of the USSR Black Sea Fleet, the Naval Forces of Ukraine had 137 combat ships, boats and auxiliaries. This included one submarine, four frigates, seven corvettes, two missile corvettes, two large and one medium amphibious landing ships, and 5 missile, 4 artillery and 3 landing boats. The majority of the ships and boats of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet which beaome the Naval Forces of Ukraine were not in a good technical condition.

Pavlo LAKIYCHUK and Yevghen LOSEV note that "In the Bulgarian Naval Forces the correlation between the quantity of combat ships and boats and auxiliaries is 3 to 1; in the Naval Forces of Ukraine it is less than 50/50. Such disproportion is typical for the navies of post-Soviet states e.g. in the Russian Black Sea Fleet the auxiliary fleet is four times greater (!) than the combat component. This correlation is conditioned by the principle difference between the approaches of planned and market economies to fleet maintenance and organization. Under the prioritized, practically unlimited financing of the Armed Forces in the USSR, it was considered that the Navy – even in times of peace - should have a fully autonomous maintenance complex which would supply the Navy at sea and in the bases without civil institutions. As a result, the Navy becomes a fully self-sufficient system at the theater. However, owing to the auxiliary fleet, the number of personnel is increases sharply, as do the expenditures related to shipbuilding and Navy maintenance."

Ukraine’s 2015 Strategic Defense Bulletin established Ukraine’s perspective as a maritime state. “The geopolitical conditions and the availability of lengthy maritime boundaries require the existence of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which could carry out actions directed towards the containment, localization and neutralization of armed seaside conflicts. <…> At the same time, the Navy should be ready to be used in the near-shore zone, as well as far from the shore, to act as part of multinational ship forces and to take part in international peacemaking operations”.

5 Corvette
4 Missile boat
2 MCM vessel
The chosen means to attain these objectives by the Ukrainian state leadership and Ministry of Defense were included in the 2004 “Defense White Paper”, which provided that for the period 2004 - 2015 “24 warships and small boats, whose support is not rationed at present, will be decommissioned. The Navy Aviation will also be reformed and shall be armed with only 10 aircrafts and 20 helicopters”. It was intended to commission 12 new ships and boats are to be commissioned and modernize 5 ships for the Naval Force structures. The Strategic Defense Bulletin Until 2015, which was approved in 2004, was not implemented because of lack of financing during the crisis.

For all time of the existence of an independent Ukrainian Navy, only two new ships entered service - the corvettes "Lutsk" in 1997 and "Ternopil" in 2005. Both of these ships were laid down by the USSR, and the Ukrainian Navy Corvette "Ternopol" was held for nearly 14 years. The concept of development of the armed forces of Ukraine suggested that the Corvettes should be the main strike force of the country'S Navy. The ships of this class were intended for the protection of coastal areas and patrolling against submarines, antisubmarine patrol tasks, protect convoys and civilian vehicles, against surface targets. These relatively small shisp are ideal for action in the Black Sea.

In November 2003 Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich approved plans to commission the sub "Zaporozhye" and the warship "Donbass" with the national navy. Ukrainian Defense minister Eugeny Marchuk said the matters of financing the maintenance of both in the future had yet to be resolved. "Zaporozhye" is the only sub of the Ukrainian navy and its prime task will be training. There are no known plans in the Ukraine to develop own submarine fleet. "Donbass" was built in 1970 and is one of the oldest ships of the Ukrainian border guards.

Strategic Defense Bulletin Until 2015 [2004]
Year FormDisband
2004 1 - Navy aviation bde 1 - Coastal Defence Force
2 - mech bde
1 - mech regt
1 - maritime aviation group
1 - radar btn
1 - NBC btn
1 - landing ships div comm
1 - maritime aviation squadron
1 - maritime hello regt
1 - CIS/radar btn
1 - joint storage
1 - frigate
1 - corvette
1 - msl boat
2005 1 - Support command
1 - support bde
1 - marines bde
1 - corvette
1 – mech btn
1 - coastal msl div
1 - coastal defence div
1 - support vessels div comm
1 - landing ship
1 - msl boat
2006 1 - Naval college
1 - radar centre
1 - CIS centre
1 - joint storage
1 - middle recce ship
1 - artillery boat
2007 1 - corvette
1 - msl boat
2008 2 - Minesweeper
1 - small recce ship
1 - landing boat
2009 1 Ops command
1 - Anti-sabotage boat
1 - landing boat
2010 1 – Corvette
1 - MCM vessel
1 - Maritime diver vessel
1 - middle landing ship
2 - anti-sabotage boat
2011 1 - Minesweeper
1 - artillery boat
2012 1 - Corvette
1 - MCM vessel
1 - msl boat
2 - Minesweeper
2013 1 - MCM vessel
1 - msl boat
1 – Corvette
2014 2 - Corvette
1 - msl boat
1 - joint storage
1 - Armaments Disposal Centre

On 19 December 2008 United States Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor, Jr. stated that Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates were discussing the purchase by Ukraine of one to three US Navy frigates. But nothing came of these discussions.

The Government reviewed the conceptual documents of materiel development of the Armed Forces for the long term, and adopted the program to create a multifunctional missile system and the construction of ship class “Corvette” for the Naval Force. The solemn naming ceremony of the first ship “Volodymyr Velykyj” was conducted with the participation of the President of Ukraine on 17 May 2011. During the year 2011 the technical readiness of 5 ships was ensured (command ship “Slavutych”, missile corvette “Prydniprovya”, anti-submarine corvette “Ternopil”, medium landing ship “Kirovograd”, rescue tug boat “Kremenec”). The repair of the submarine “Zaporizhzhia” continued.

Ukraine’s only submarine, the Zaporozhye, underwent first-stage sea trials including running submerged on 19 July 2012 after undergoing a major refit. The boat was submerged in the Black Sea for the first time in 18 years during the trial, Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Yury Ilyin said. Surface tests of the submarine’s power plant and other key equipment were held in April. A Soviet-era Foxtrot class (Project 641) diesel-electric submarine, Zaporozhye was laid up at a dock in Sevastopol for years before its refit. Russian engineers repaired and serviced the submarine and a new crew of Ukrainian submariners was trained at Russian naval bases. Though the submarine was built 40 years ago, it has been upgraded with new equipment. Russia, Bulgaria, and Romania also have submarines based in the Black Sea.

The Commander of the Ukrainian Navy announced significant improvements in the Navy’s ship repair programs on 07 June 2012. The Chornomorskiy Shipyard, located in Mykolayiv, signed the following contracts on ship repairs:

  • The Muna class costal survey ship U512 Pereyaslav;
  • The Ropucha I class large landing ship U402 Kostiantyn Olshansky; and
  • The Missile Cutter U155 Prydniprovia.

The ships should return to the Ukrainian Navy by the end of 2012.

The Ukrainian Navy continued to receive ships back from major overhaul, following substantial investment in capital maintenance in 2012. The Sevastopol Maritime Plant completed dry-dock repairs of U-153 Pryluky missile boat for the Ukrainian Navy on 22 January 2013. Repair work on the corvette-class Khmelnytsky, which has kept the ship in port at the Sevastopol Naval Base for almost a year, was almost complete. The repairs focused on hydro-acoustics, radio equipment, and torpedo/mine-laying systems.

On 18 October 2013 Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev said that the Cabinet of Ministers had decided to write off 9 ships from the Navy due to technical disrepair. Lebedev said that the decision was made about the cancellation of nine ships, which for more than 20 years, and which are technically run down unfit condition. According to him, only one of these are warships, and the rest are boats. The Government planned to write off the coastal Minesweeper "Melitopol, diving ship" Vol'nogors'k, dry cargo barge Bryanka, harbor launches Konotop and ROK-1935 [LCD 1935], hydrographic boat MGK-1694 [CIM-1694], raid patrol boat Rhythm-450, marine boat Ostrog, water-tanker Bakhmach and weapons transport Djankoi/Dzhankoy.

By 2014 Ukraine had already had begun the first Corvette of a series of 4 units. Implementation of State order was at "chernomorsky shipbuilding yard" in Nikolaev. The first ship was scheduled to be commissioned in the year 2016, and by 2021, the Ukrainian Navy should have four new corvettes 58250 project. Originally plans provided for the construction of 10 such vessels, but later due to lack of funding it was decided to limit the program to 4 corvettes.

Ukrainian Navy ships should be domestically-built, modern and compatible with the NATO infrastructure, spokesperson Svyatoslav Tsegolko quoted President Petro Poroshenko as saying 10 APril 2015. "The president [said] while in Odessa: our fleet should be modern and compatible with NATO warships. The priority should be given to building new ships in Ukraine."

In December 2014, Ukraine abandoned its non-aligned status and sought to join NATO. Poroshenko stated that Ukraine would finalize its decision to join the military bloc within five to six years. Despite Kiev's aspirations to become part of the alliance, NATO officials have repeatedly stressed that the country would need to implement a wide range of reforms before being considered for bloc membership.

The US will provide $10 million extra in military aid to help Ukraine beef up its naval capabilities, the State Department announced 21 December 2018, days after a Senate resolution called for such aid in response to the Kerch Strait incident. Russia was ordered to "immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained Ukrainian crews" involved in last month's naval provocation and to allow Ukrainian ships to freely navigate the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov in the statement from deputy State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino. The financial decision was made "in solidarity with" Lithuania and the UK, which also plan to step up their funding of the Ukrainian military, he added.

US senators introduced a resolution on 19 December 2018 in support of the idea, calling for President Trump to retaliate against so-called "Russian aggression" by leading a "robust multinational freedom of navigation operation" in the Black Sea to counter "excessive Russian Federation claims of sovereignty." The resolution requested additional military assistance to Ukraine, a wish the State Department granted in record time (subject to Congressional approval). The resolution also calls for the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the imposition of yet more sanctions on Russia, even requesting European countries deny Russian Navy ships access to their ports for refueling and resupply purposes.

On 17 June 2020 the US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Ukraine of up to sixteen (16) 72 ton Mark VI Patrol Boats and related equipment for an estimated cost of $600 million. The Government of Ukraine also requested to buy thirty-two (32) MSI Seahawk A2 gun systems; twenty (20) Electro-Optics-Infrared Radar (FLIR) (16 installed and 4 spares); sixteen (16) Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) 5km loudspeaker systems; sixteen (16) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems; forty (40) MK44 cannons (32 installed and 8 spares); communication equipment; support equipment; spare and repair parts; tools and test equipment; technical data and publications; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe. The proposed sale will improve Ukraine’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a modern, fast, short-range vessel. Ukraine will utilize the vessels to better defend its territorial waters and protect other maritime interests. Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The prime contractor will be SAFE Boats International, Bremerton, WA. There are no known offset agreements proposed in conjunction with this potential sale.

The vector in terms of armament of the Ukrainian Navy changed towards foreign-made ships. On September 27, 2018, in the American Baltimore, a ceremony was held for the transfer of two Island-class patrol boats to Ukraine, and by the end of 2021, three more boats of this type may be transferred. The transfer of six Mark VI class boats with weapons to Ukraine from the United States is being prepared, and the topic of our country's use of British missile boats is actively discussed in the media. The Strategy for the development of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine by 2035 was adopted on 11 Janueary 2019. Recovery of the surface forces during the first two stages of the Strategy will be executed due to the boats of the “mosquito fleet”. This solution is the most realistic in terms of cost-effectiveness ratio. Due to its speed, manoeuvrability and armament, such boats are capable of performing practically the whole spectrum of tasks that are inherent to classical surface ships, but they have smaller sea worthiness and operational range from the coast. Their advantage over larger ships is ability of agile and surprise actions, possibility to be relocated by land and the ability to operate on the rivers. The “mosquito fleet” will gradually increase its combat potential by improving characteristics and new high-tech weaponry. The operational zones of boats will increase. Combined with the innovative tactics of employment and well-trained crews, the “mosquito fleet” boats will be able to defeat a stronger enemy in naval battles and operations. During the second stage, it is expected that Corvette class ships will be introduced to the Naval Forces, which will be capable to execute tasks beyond the Black Sea. On 21 June 2021, in Odessa aboard the Royal Navy's missile destroyer HMS DEFENDER, the Minister for Defense Procurement of the United Kingdom Jeremy Quinn and the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksandr Myronyuk signed a Memorandum on the implementation of maritime partnership projects between the consortium and the consortium. The memorandum provides for the joint design and construction of warships in Ukraine and the United Kingdom, as well as the construction of two bases of the Ukrainian Navy. This is another step in the development of bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and the United Kingdom to strengthen the Ukrainian fleet, which faces constant danger in the Black and Azov Seas.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2021 17:44:27 ZULU