Small warships for Ukraine to be built in Scotland


As part of the Ukrainian Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme (UNCEP) agreement signed with the UK government in October 2020, Babcock will build at least one, probably two Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) for Ukraine at their Rosyth facility.

This was reported by Navy Lookout.

Initial rumours suggested that FIAC based on the Vosper Thornycroft-designed Barzan class vessels could be built in the UK, possibly at the Appledore shipyard (now owned by Harland and Wolff). The UNCEP subsequently appointed Babcock as the designated prime industrial partner for Ukraine and they will bring in SMEs to contribute as needed.

Industry sources suggested that BAE Systems, who had inherited the IP for the Barzan design, was willing to donate it on an ‘as seen only’ basis to other UK shipbuilders. However, Babcock assessed the Barzan as unsuitable, not least due to the drawbacks of its aluminium hull. A former Babcock subsidiary, FBM Marine (acquired in 2000) had a portfolio of small-medium size fast patrol ship designs under the ‘Protector’ brand developed in the late 1990s. A total of eight FIAC will be built for Ukraine will be based on a modified and updated 50-metre Protector design (P50-U).

UNCEP is based on UK export finance in the form of a loan to the Ukrainian government and will include British-made equipment where possible and Ukrainian and other foreign content as required. The precise weapon and sensor fit has yet to be determined but P50-U will be heavily armed for her size, intended to provide a short-range asymmetric deterrent to the much larger warships of Ukraine’s threatening neighbour. It will likely feature a small-medium calibre main gun, 8 canister-launched anti-ship missiles and a lightweight surface to air missile system.

Модель ракетного катера від Babcock. Фото: Harry Lye Photo by Harry Lye

The lead ship of the P50-U FIACs will be built at Babcock Rosyth facility in the Syncrolift Hall (Building 18 – also known as the Sandown Minehunter Refit Facility) adjacent to the newly erected Type 31 shipbuilding hall. This will allow the project to be de-risked before the remaining 6 or 7 vessels are built In Ukraine.

The automated robotic panel line which has been installed as part of the investment for the Type 31 programme will also be used in the project and the craft will be assembled in pre-outfitted sections. The existing infrastructure in the Hall including overhead gantry cranes can readily support modular construction of what will probably be 500-600 tonne vessels. The syncrolift can also be used to lower the completed hull into the water.

Besides the FIAC project, Babcock also has the contract to improve naval shore facilities in Ukraine and refurbish two decommissioned RN minehunters (ex-HMS Ramsey and Blyth) before their transfer to the Ukrainian navy. The MCMVs will receive upgrades to their predominantly UK equipment fit in Rosyth before being handed over to their new owners. This is a similar package to the three ex-RN Sandown Class MCMV sold to Estonia (2007-8) and refurbished before handover, the three ships were also recently refitted and upgraded in Rosyth.

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