LONDON: “The Polish Navy (PN) is the most underfunded service of the Polish Armed Forces. Currently, the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) is working on the redefinition of priorities for the Navy. According to plans for the period 2009-2018, PN should receive one corvette, a submarine and a minesweeper. However, the implementation of these plans will not solve essential problems that PN face, since the combat potential of single vessels cannot be fully realized.
“Apart from this, the ten-year construction saga of the corvette “Gawron” clearly indicates how expensive the purchase of single advanced weapon systems can be. With such small forces PN will be unable to provide effective maritime protection of energy supplies to Poland, including liquefied gas shipments from Qatar to the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie.”
This raises questions about the MoDs strategy for naval procurement and purchasing priorities. The top most priority in the MoD should be the purchase of three modern submarines, equipped with air independent propulsion system (AIP), as well as the acquisition of three corvette vessels or ocean patrol vessel (OPV) class such as Govind (DCNS) or Visby (Kockums).
Therefore, the MoD should prioritise a combined tender for purchase of three modern submarines and three corvettes/OPVs. The combined cost of these purchases would be in the range of $1.4-1.8 billion. This is in excess of funds allocated for the modernization of the Navy by 2018, but it is still within the budget limits of the Ministry of Defence. To paraphrase the favourite saying of the former U.S. Secretary of Defense – Robert M. Gates – the implementation of the maritime program would be difficult but not impossible.
Potential participants in the tender would be shipbuilding companies from Europe such as DCNS, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, Navantia, and Kockums. It could also include the participation of Asian companies such as Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation. Such a large group of applicants would facilitate better negotiations thereby leading to favourable conditions of the contract, including technology transfer and participation of the Polish shipbuilding industry in the program.
The maritime project on the one hand would increase the combat potential of the Navy and on the other would bring modern technologies and benefits, not only for the shipbuilding industry but for the entire Polish economy. However, the implementation of the maritime project needs courageous decisions from MoD decision makers to achieve the realization of the programme.”