17:14 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Rauma Marine Constructions

    Finland's Future Warships Facing Construction Problems

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    The Finnish Navy intends to update its fleet with four offshore patrol vessels within its Laivue 2020 program. The total cost of the program amounts to approximately €1.2 billion. Complications may arise, however, for lack of "available" wharfs in Finland.

    In late September, the Finnish Defense Ministry signed an agreement on intent with the Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC), which owns a shipyard in the town of Rauma in western Finland. The shipyard, which specializes in ferries and cruise ships, has six months to prove that it is able to execute the order, otherwise the tender for construction of future offshore patrol vessels, which are expected to displace about 2,500 tons, will be reorganized.

    The main problem is that the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, which ranks among Finland's largest, is partly owned by the Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) and is no longer eligible to operate Finnish military orders.

    ​The Perno Shipyard in Turku, which is operated by the German Meyer Werft company, was another likely contender, despite its orientation towards cruise ships and passenger ferries, but proved to be fully booked with orders until the end of the 2020s.

    Naturally, there are plenty of EU shipyards which are ready to execute the order, but the conservative Finnish Armed Forces traditionally build their warships domestically, the main reason being security and supply issues in times of crisis. Previously, the only exception was made for Katanpää-class mine countermeasure vessels, which are currently being built in Italy, since there were no domestic contractors available.

    ​At present, the range of weapons for the future warships with a length of up to 100 meters has not been chosen yet. According to the Laivue 2020 program worth €1.2 billion, up to 60 percent of the planned expenditure will be spent on equipment. The new offshore patrol vessels are expected to be furnished with multifunctional weapons and a helipad.

    Maritime cooperation with the United States, which began six years ago, is considered vital for the future of the Finnish Navy. According to the Finnish Navy, the collaboration with the US is at present limited to joint research.

    "It is all about common joint research work. They [the Americans] want to know more about the peculiarities of navigation in ice-covered waters. They show a keen interest for the Northern Sea Passage, which is only natural for any large country with access to the sea," Commodore Veli-Pekka Heinonen from the logistics department of the Finnish Armed Forces told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

    ​A few years ago, the Finnish Navy launched a joint research project with the US on the design of warships, involving experiments in laboratory and on high seas. Joint tests were carried out on Finnish missile carriers in Finnish waters.


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    shipbuilding, navy, United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Russia, United States, Finland
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