Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense starting to create group of Black Sea mine action forces

Ukraine has begun creating a group of mine action forces in the Black Sea. A resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers has been adopted, which will allow raising funds for the supply and maintenance of two mine counter measure vessels, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported.

“The Ministry of Defense is starting to create a group of mine action forces in the Black Sea. The government has adopted a resolution that will raise funds necessary for the implementation of the project for the supply and maintenance of two mine counter measure vessels, as provided for in the Framework Agreement between the governments of Ukraine and the UK,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on its official website.

According to the report, in 2022, two Sandown-class minehunters were withdrawn from the British fleet, received the names Cherkasy and Chernihiv and were involved in multinational exercises under the Ukrainian flag. The supply agreement was signed by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defence.

“In 2023, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense entered into an agreement with a UK-based company that has extensive experience in servicing UK Navy ships. Ukraine will pay for modernization, maintenance, equipment and spare parts for two minehunters in accordance with loan agreements, the terms of which are approved in resolution,” the Ministry of Defense said.

The vessels cannot yet arrive in the waters of Ukraine – this contradicts the Montreux Convention of 1936, which prohibits the passage of vessels of warring countries through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.

“These vessels are critically needed for Ukraine to clear mines in the Black Sea at the end of the full-scale war, because these are modern mine-resistant ships of this class. According to Ukrainian and NATO experts, the operation to eliminate the mine threat in the Black Sea will last from three to five years, and the recommended sea routes and ship moorings for up to six months, but without such vessels this could last longer,” Commander of the Ukrainian Navy Oleksiy Neizhpapa, as quoted by the press service of the Ministry of Defense.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the crews of Cherkasy and Chernihiv vessels are currently undergoing training as part of mine action forces. In particular, military personnel master the use of anti-mine weapons, tactics and methods of clearing mines in water areas according to NATO standards.

The teams completed the first stage of training on mine-resistant vessels and received positive assessments based on the results of the certification of NATO specialists during the Joint Warrior 23-2 exercise. In the future, military personnel will undergo intensive training on ships for operations in any conditions.

This year, Cherkasy and Chernihiv vessels will participate in three international exercises. At the final stage, NATO experts will certify the ships for compatibility for operations as part of NATO ship-based mine counter measure groups. “The conclusion of relevant agreements is critically important. This will begin the formation of a maritime mine action group in the Black Sea and will avoid image losses for Ukraine in the eyes of a strategic partner. After all, it was the UK that initiated the creation of the International Maritime Capability Coalition,” added Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Dzhyhir.


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