This is the second sheet metal cutting ceremony for the construction of the ship this year that was held at the Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. shipyard in Gdańsk. On April 27, construction officially began on the first (of two planned) radio-electronic reconnaissance ship of the "Delfin" („Dolphin”) program, which will strengthen the Polish Navy's capabilities in the near future.
The event comes less than a month after a similar ceremony, during which metal sheets were cut in connection with the construction of the fourth mine destroyer of proj. 258, the future ORP Jaskółka, which will become part of the 12th minesweeper squadron (12. Dywizjon Trałowców) of the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla (8. Flotylla Obrony Wybrzeża). The ship, whose construction begins today, does not yet have its name (this one will be indicated and approved soon). Together with its twin vessel, whose construction will start soon, it will become part of the Reconnaissance Ship Group (Grupa Okrętów Rozpoznawczych) of the 3rd Flotilla of Ships (3. Flotylla Okrętów), stationed in the Naval Port of Gdynia.
The ceremony, which began shortly after 12:00 pm, was attended by Navy Inspector Vice Admiral Jaroslaw Ziemiański, commander of the 3rd Flotilla of Ships captain Andrzej Ogrodnik, head of the Head of Maritime Technology captain Piotr Skóra, CEO and head of SAAB Kockums AB Mats Wicksell, representatives of the Swedish contractor for the program, Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. and Gdańska Stocznia Remontowa S.A. (shipyards forming part of the Remontowa Holding capital group), as well as representatives of financial institutions and companies involved in the venture.
„We are proud and happy to have been invited to participate in the program to build two ships for the Polish Navy. Thank you for entrusting us with this unique project. These will be modern ship built for electronic listening and intelligence gathering," stressed Remontowa Shipbuilding Shipyard's project director Krzysztof Radzikowski.
Saab also has experience in building ships, including reconnaissance ships. It has completed the process of retrofitting the ship HMS Artemis. Significantly, this ship was also partially built in Poland. The hull was launched in 2019 at the PGZ Stocznia Wojenna Sp. z.o.o., shipyard in Gdynia. Subsequently, the ship was partially retrofitted at the Nauta Repair Shipyard S.A., which was employed as a subcontractor for the project.
“The steel cutting ceremony is an important milestone. We are proud to have been chosen as supplier for the Polish Navy as they are reinforcing their signal intelligence capabilities and we work in close cooperation with Remontowa Shipyard on the programme. The ceremony coincides with the delivery of the SIGINT ship HMS Artemis to the Swedish Defence Material Administration. The added signals intelligence capabilities for Sweden as well as Poland will be important to continue safeguarding the Baltic Sea,” said Mats Wicksell, Head of Saab BA Kockums.
Photos presented at the ceremony show that future ships for the Polish Navy will be similar to their Swedish counterpart due to the use of many common design and technological solutions. The aforementioned Artemis is about 74 meters long and has a displacement of up to 3,000 tons, while its Polish twins will be similar in size. They will certainly be distinguished by their very high autonomy, enabling them to operate for a long time without calling at a port. These types of ships will perform reconnaissance tasks, surveying the areas where they are located, as well as collecting data for their own naval forces, intelligence, and not when hydrographic services. For this reason, these ships will not be heavily armed, instead they will be equipped with modern intelligence, survey and research equipment, enabling effective reconnaissance of naval forces and ships of other countries, as well as maritime infrastructure, such as ports, gas terminals or offshore wind farms. The importance of such ships is underscored by the fact that they are used extensively by fleets of countries such as Russia, the UK and the US.
The shipyard from Gdańsk also already has considerable experience in the shipbuilding industry. In addition to the aforementioned mine destroyers proj. 258, six tugboats proj. B860, which are in the equipment of the Support Ship Squadron of the 3rd Flotilla of Ships and the 12th minesweeper squadron of the the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla, were built on its premises in 2019-2021.
Currently, the Polish Navy is serving two radio-electronic reconnaissance ships proj. 863 (NATO code: Modified Moma) ORP Hydrograf and ORP Navigator. Both ships underwent major overhauls and retrofitting in 2018 and 2020, respectively, to extend their mission capability. Due to their age (they were drafted into service in 1975-1976), there was a need to replace them with modern ships, more adapted to current realities.
The contract for the construction of the "Delfin" program two ships was concluded on November 25 between Saab and polish Armament Agency on November 25, 2022. On December 15, the swedish company announced that the details of the contract had been finalized, confirming the start of preparations for the order. The MMC Ship Design & Marine Consulting office is responsible for the project. The total value of the order is about 6.7 billion SEK (or nearly 2.8 billion PLN). According to preliminary plans, their successors are expected to enter service in 2027. Sheet cutting for the construction of the second ship will take place in November 2023. The launch of the first ship is scheduled for July 2024.
The ceremony is part of a string of many more that will take place this year and next. Construction of more Kormoran II-type ships and the second unit of the „Delfin” program will soon begin. In August this year, a similar event will take place at PGZ Naval Shipyard in connection with the start of work on the first prototype multi-role frigate of the „Miecznik” program (Swordfish). Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. is also participating in its creation.