Soviet-built submarine Orzeł pr. 877
The ship composition of the Polish Navy needs to be modernized as soon as possible. Most of the ships, boats, submarines and vessels are old and therefore need modern replacement. The command has already drawn up and approved the main plans for the modernization fleethowever, their implementation may be associated with known difficulties.
The payroll of the Polish Navy includes approx. 50 pennants for various purposes. There are diesel-electric submarines, frigates and corvettes, torpedo boats, mine defense ships and boats, as well as a wide variety of various auxiliary vessels and boats.
The Polish submarine forces include only three diesel-electric submarines: one ship of the Soviet project 877 and two German boats of the Kobben type (a variant of the Type 205 project for Poland).
The largest in the surface forces are the two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates received from the United States in the early 19s. They are complemented by the corvettes Kaszub and Ślązak, built according to different designs. There are three Orkan-class missile boats. The amphibious fleet includes five ships of the Lublin project with the possibility of transporting people and equipment, as well as laying mines. The most numerous in the Navy are minesweepers - 2017 ships of five different projects, including the new Kormoran, which entered service in XNUMX.
Two frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry class - the largest ships of the Polish Navy
The main feature and problem of the Polish Navy is the age of the equipment. So, the minesweeper Czajka, built back in 1966, continues to serve. The frigates "Oliver Hazard Perry" were built in the second half of the seventies and then served in the American fleet for about 20 years, after which they were transferred to Poland. 18 Polish pennants began service in the eighties. After 2000, it was possible to receive only five surface ships and vessels, as well as two submarines.
Plans for the future
In 2017-19. The Polish command drew up and approved several guiding documents defining the development of the Navy in the short and medium term. One of them stipulates construction measures until 2032, while the other covers the period from 2021 to 2035.
According to these plans, by the middle of the next decade it is necessary to reorganize the structure of the Navy, revise their numbers and implement a major shipbuilding program. As a result of these processes, strike forces will appear in the fleet, including submarines, frigates, corvettes and patrol boats - three units of each class. The strike force will be supplemented with a pair of coastal missile divisions. Mine sweeping forces will be reduced to 3 modern combat units, but their further increase is not excluded.
Patrol ship Ślązak
Support forces will undergo a similar modernization. They will include a staff ship, reconnaissance ships, universal transports, a tanker, a survey ship, 2 rescue ships, tugs, etc.
Thus, in the next 10-15 years, the payroll of the Polish fleet will be reduced to two dozen ships, i.e. almost doubled compared to current figures. The main contribution to this reduction will be made by the decommissioning of obsolete minesweepers built during the Warsaw Pact. At the same time, it will be necessary to abandon some of the surface ships and all submarines - less old and numerous, but determining the combat qualities of the Navy.
Due to the specifics of the Baltic Sea, the Polish command plans to abandon relatively large ships, such as the frigates Oliver Hazard Perry. The emphasis will be placed on ships of smaller size and displacement, more fully consistent with the restrictions of the Baltic. It is expected that this will allow obtaining the required combat capability and at the same time reducing construction and maintenance costs.
Already in 2023-26. all three existing submarines must develop the assigned resource, and during this period they are planned to be withdrawn from the combat composition of the fleet. The program for their replacement has been worked out over the past several years and is facing certain difficulties: Poland does not have the ability to independently build submarines and has a limited budget.
Lublin-class landing craft on exercise
As a temporary measure, it is proposed to purchase from one of the foreign countries used submarines with suitable characteristics. Such ships will make it possible to write off the old diesel-electric submarines, but preserve the submarine forces. At the same time, by 2024, it is planned to select a foreign supplier, who will be ordered to build new submarines. They will be completed and commissioned only by the end of the decade.
At the moment, the Polish command is comparing the samples presented on the international market. Projects of French, German and Swedish shipbuilders are being studied. The possibility of building ships by joint efforts with the involvement of Polish shipyards, which have no experience in the field of submarines, is being considered.
The main plans and hopes in the context of the surface forces are associated with the corvettes / patrol boats of the Gawron type - a modified version of the MEKO A-100 project. It was originally planned to build 7 such ships, but in 2012-13. the program was sharply cut. Due to the excessive complexity and growing cost, it was decided to finish building only the lead ship Ślązak, and according to a simplified design. However, this did not change the situation. The corvette, turned into a patrol ship with reduced capabilities, was accepted into the Navy only in 2019.
Minesweeper Czajka - the oldest ship of the Polish Navy
The obsolescence of the surface forces makes one remember old projects. The possibility of building new patrol boats according to the existing type is being considered. The fleet needs at least two of these pennants. The prospects for the patrol / frigates of the new Miecznik project remain unclear. It is being developed with the participation of foreign specialists, but construction has not yet begun. It is expected that a contract for three such frigates will appear in 2022-23, and the ships will be delivered by 2030.
In 2017, the Polish Navy received the Kormoran minesweeper of the project of the same name. In 2019 and 2020 the laying of two more ships of this type took place. According to the initial plans, they were supposed to begin service in 2020-21, however, the actual dates are shifting to the right. Until 2022, three remote-controlled underwater vehicles from the Swedish company Saab will be purchased for the new minesweepers.
The plans for the development of auxiliary forces provide for the preservation of a part of the existing ships, which retain a sufficient supply of resources. The construction of new ones will also be launched. The main part of such tasks is supposed to be solved by the forces of its own shipbuilding industry. At the same time, part of the vessels and a lot of components for them will have to be purchased abroad.
The current state of the Polish Navy leaves much to be desired and tends to gradually deteriorate. In the foreseeable future, the fleet will have to write off old ships and vessels, the further operation of which turns out to be impossible or impractical. The proposed modernization measures are able to solve this problem, but only partially.
Head minesweeper type Kormoran
Based on the results of the observed and planned processes, by 2025-30. the quantitative indicators of the IUD will noticeably decrease. Such losses will be partially compensated by the construction of new pennants with improved combat qualities and fully meeting current requirements.
The scope of current and future construction is significantly limited by the financial capabilities of the Polish fleet. Until 2025, it is planned to spend approx. PLN 10-12 billion (USD 2,5-3 billion). Whether it will be possible to find additional funding to order more ships is unclear.
Thus, Poland found itself in a specific position. The existing industrial and financial capabilities do not correspond to the military-political tasks being set. Therefore, the command has to look for ways out and even make sacrifices. In the coming years, it is planned to exchange quantity for quality and more complete compliance with the tasks set. Whether such a policy will justify itself will become known in a few years.