Modular hull, composite materials and expired shelf life – these days it has become known that Ukraine plans to acquire three second-hand Danish warships. According to the media, the “new” ships will cost 102 million euros and Denmark has already approved the transaction.
‘New’ Old Ships
Sweepers built on the basis of the Flyvefisken (Danish) or Standard Flex 300 boats are likely to be assigned to Ukraine’s main naval base in Odessa.
The special feature of the standard Flex 300 ships is its modular design. The “flying fish” has already been considered quite advanced and innovative. The rapid replacement module scheme (the block exchange process varies from 24 to 48 hours) allows its use as missile ships, with artillery, anti-submarine warfare, anti-mine or mine-laying.
Each module is a container with a certain type of weapon: it can be a 76mm artillery piece, an antiaircraft missile system, Harpoon cruise missile launchers, 533mm torpedo tubes, a surface target detection radar or aerial stations or a radio reconnaissance station. No information was disclosed on the purchase by Ukraine of separate modules together with the ships, so it is possible to conclude that they will be used exclusively as minesweepers.
The Danish fleet received 14 such boats and approximately one hundred replaceable modules from 1986 to 1996. However, the modular design was not justified. The ships were not used as multipurpose, but with a fixed set of equipment and weapons.
Flyvefisken was withdrawn from the Danish fleet from 2010 to 2012. Three were purchased on the patrol boat version by Lithuania and five for Portugal. The minesweeper with mine equipment, destined for the Ukrainian Navy, awaits the conclusion of the transaction. According to experts, the purchase of three small-tonnage ships is unlikely to correct the deplorable condition of the Ukrainian navy and increase its attack power.
Problems with delivery
According to military expert Aleksei Leonkov, this agreement is more beneficial to the Danes themselves.
“Today, the Royal Navy has modern ocean patrol ships, frigates and command and support ships capable of resolving joint tasks within the NATO fleet,” Leonkov says.
He added that “the benefits are obvious, the ships do not need to be cut for scrap – this costs money, but in the meantime this business has come about.”
In addition, the analyst believes that Ukraine will likely face problems with the transportation of the acquired vessels.
“It is a long journey, ships must be escorted and replenished – logistics cost a lot of money. They will not be allowed to enter the sea of Azov […] A Flyvefisken weighs 320 tons and is unlikely to be transported by land,” he emphasized.
Probably the fate of the “new” ships will be to navigate the Black Sea and scare the uninformed villagers with their appearance. They perfectly serve to simulate a combat capability of the Ukrainian Navy, but will not be useful to oppose Russia (Ukrainian politicians have repeatedly announced this intention).
Fleet of mosquitoes
In recent years, Ukraine has been betting on the equipment of the navy mainly with small boats. The navy command no longer expects to achieve military parity with Russia in the Black and Azov seas, but believes the country needs a small but efficient fleet. In addition, Kiev plans to set up a naval base in the Sea of Azov by the end of 2018. This is apparently one of the points of the new development strategy of the Ukrainian Navy until 2035 which is being developed with the active participation of foreign experts.
The small boats of the Ukrainian Navy are supposed to use the tactics of the “wolf pack” developed by Nazi Germany submarines during World War II. The Ukrainian sailors hope to simultaneously attack with several light armored boats a large enemy ship. According to this theory, a frigate or a missile cruiser cannot follow several targets at once and will not have time to reach all the combat units of the so-called fleet of mosquitoes with their fire, which will be rapidly moving towards the target.
It is estimated that one or two boats will be able to approach the range of fire and shoot the enemy ship with torpedoes or missiles. At the same time, the military of the Ukrainian Navy openly declare that these tactics are directed exclusively against the warships of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia.