Monday, January 26, 2009
Estonian Navy Received Third Sandown-Class MCM From U.K. - Report / Third Sandown-Class Mine Hunter Delivered to Estonia
Estonian Navy Received Third Sandown-Class MCM From U.K. - Report / Third Sandown-Class Mine Hunter Delivered to Estonia (NSI News Source Info) January 26, 2009: EML Ugandi, the last of the Sandown-class mine hunters acquired from the United Kingdom, was today delivered to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Estonia in Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard, Scotland. In a formal ceremony in Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard, the vessel was officially handed over to Mr. Riho Terras, Permanent Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Estonia, by Commodore Charles Stevenson, the Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and a stern flag of the Estonian Navy was hoisted on EML Ugandi. The Sandown class is a class of minehunter originally built for the British Royal Navy (RN). Sandown-class vessels also serve with the Royal Saudi Navy and the Estonian Navy (Merevägi). The first vessel commissioned into RN service on June 9, 1989 and all the British ships are named after coastal towns and cities. These small (53 m) fibreglass vessels are single role mine hunters (SRMH) rather than minesweepers. 12 ships were built for the RN and 3 ships were exported to Saudi Arabia. Three RN vessels were decommissioned following the Strategic Defence Review in 2003; HMS Sandown (January 2005), Inverness (April 2005) and Bridport (July 2004). A further ship, HMS Cromer, was decommissioned and transferred to a training role at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England in 2001 as Hindostan. The three decommissioned vessels were sold to Estonia in September 2006. They will be re-equipped with TCS (Tactical Control System) and the Atlas Elektronik Seafox ROV for mine disposal. The sonar system will be also be updated. The first ship, delivered in 2007, has been named the Admiral Cowan, the second, delivered in 2008, has been named Sakala and the last is scheduled for February or March 2009. When taking over EML Ugandi, Mr. Terras stated that the event represented an important benchmark in the development of the Estonian Navy, the objective of which is better coping in a contemporary security development. “All three mine hunters, which were acquired, will help to clear Estonia’s territorial waters of mines that were launched during the two world wars, and also offers new opportunities for international joint operations with our NATO allies,” Mr. Terras said. The Permanent Undersecretary reminded those present that the first mine hunter purchased from the United Kingdom, EML Admiral Cowan, sailed in the ranks of the NATO Response Force in the Mediterranean last year, becoming the first vessel of the Estonian Navy to operate so far south. Mr. Terras also thanked the staff of Babcock dockyard and the officers and civil servants of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom for close co-operation. According to an agreement, concluded with the United Kingdom in September 2006, Estonia bought three Sandown-class mine hunters in total. The total value of the three vessels is 800 million Estonian kroons, which includes the repair and maintenance works of the vessels and the training of the crew members in the United Kingdom. Sandown-class mine hunters use Seafox type underwater robots to detect and destroy mines. Unlike the first two vessels, EML Ugandi is equipped with Klein 5000 series sidescan sonars and a 23 mm cannon. These vessels are among Estonia’s most significant defence procurements since joining NATO and will significantly increase the capability of the Estonian Navy. They will be used for the locating and disposing of sea mines and other ordnance, which were deposited in Estonian’s exclusive economic zone during the two world wars. The vessels will also be used in NATO joint exercises and operations. The special ceremony was attended by the Commander of the Navy, Navy Captain Igor Schvede, and higher officials and army representatives from the Estonian and British defence ministries. The first Sandown-class mine hunter, EML Admiral Cowan, was handed over to Estonia in April 2007 and the second vessel, EML Sakala, in January 2008.