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Ukrainian Navy Minehunters Arrive In Portsmouth

Ukrainian Navy minehunter Chernihiv alongside Cherkasy at No 2 Basin HMNB Portsmouth [Crown Copyright: LPhot Henry Parks]

Two former Royal Navy minehunter ships transferred to the Ukrainian Navy have arrived in Portsmouth for a multinational exercise series.

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Press Release, Whitehall, 11 April 2024: Two Ukrainian minehunter ships, recently transferred from the Royal Navy to Ukraine’s navy, have arrived in Portsmouth today ahead of a series of multinational naval exercises.

The arrival of the ships, now named Cherkasy and Chernihiv, marks a significant step in the UK’s work to support the transformation and modernisation of Ukraine’s navy. Having sailed down from their current home in Scotland, the two ships and their crew will start preparing for their first operational exercises since their transfer to the Ukrainian Navy was fully completed.

Ukrainian warship Chernihiv entering Portsmouth [Crown Copyright: LPhot Ollie Leach]

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is leading the way in helping Ukraine to modernise their Navy. The transfer of these ships and the excellent training provided by the Royal Navy will have a real long-term impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend its waters.

“We continue to support Ukraine as they deliver major blows to Putin’s Black Sea Fleet. In doing so, they are securing vital corridors to export grain and other materials, supporting their economy in the face of Russia’s barbaric bombardment.”

Ukrainian warship Cherkasy entering Portsmouth [Crown Copyright: LPhot Ollie Leach]

The transfer of the vessels to Ukraine’s navy was announced to coincide with the launch of the Maritime Capability Coalition, which the UK jointly leads with Norway, to provide assistance to Ukraine’s navy, including training, equipment, and infrastructure, to bolster security in the Black Sea region. Ukraine has sunk or disabled around a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the start of the conflict through a series of precision-guided missile strikes and innovative use of maritime one-way attack drones. With support from the UK, Ukraine’s Black Sea activity has meant, despite ongoing Russian strikes against Odesa oblast, Ukraine has almost certainly exported more grain through its seaports in the first months of 2024 than at any time since the outbreak of the war.

Both ships will now be rebased in Portsmouth, where they will be prepared to take part in Exercise SEA BREEZE 24, a joint countermeasure exercise between the Royal Navy, US Navy and Ukrainian Navy. This exercise will improve the ability of Ukraine’s navy to operate alongside NATO nations, increase agility amongst NATO navies, and demonstrates the UK and allies’ shared commitment to security and stability.

Ukrainian warship Cherkasy entering HMNB Portsmouth [Crown Copyright: LPhot Henry Parks]

Transfer of the ships, previously named Shoreham and Grimsby, began last year – with both taking part in Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 23 and Exercise SEA BREEZE 23 in UK waters. Their transfer earlier this year was made possible by a buyer credit facility guarantee provided by the UK government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance.

The ships are currently not able to enter the Black Sea due to the terms of the Montreux Convention, which restricts passage of military vessels through the Bosporus Strait at times of war. However, they will form a critical capability for Ukraine in its future defence of its coastlines as the UK looks to support the longer-term capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy, while they look to protect commercial shipping by detecting and disabling sea mines.

The UK’s dedication to supporting Ukraine has been unwavering since the illegal invasion in 2022. As one of the largest military donors to Ukraine, the UK has demonstrated its commitment through substantial military aid. So far, we have committed more than £7 billion to supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Sailor aboard Cherkasy in HMNB Portsmouth [Crown Copyright: LPhot Henry Parks]

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