The Polish Navy Development Concept

The year 2013 has seen a breakthrough in the process of reforming and upgrading Polish Navy, through the implementation of The Polish Navy Development Concept until 2022, with a 2030 Outlook. The Concept is the basis for the currently ongoing 2013-2022/2030 Operational Programme – Countering Threats at Sea, which will take the Polish naval fleet into a new technological dimension, as state-of-the-art naval armament is built or purchased.

One of the main projects under the Operational Programme is a new submarine, code name ORKA, with its design and equipment corresponding to the latest trends and operational requirements. Its main advantage comes in not only cutting-edge weaponry for countering subsea, sea-surface and land targets, but also the ability to stay under the water for extended periods.

The Coastal Defence Vessel, code name MIECZNIK, is another important component project of the Programme. The Miecznik will be a multi-purpose vessel used to counter threats on coastal waters and to operate on open waters as part of Allied Task Forces. Its purpose is not unlike that of a traditional multi-purpose corvette, although there will be differences in both the Miecznik’s task priorities and its equipment.

The patrol vessel, code name CZAPLA, with mine countermeasure functions will be smaller than the Miecznik, but both designs will be based on the same type of hull to allow not only savings during the construction phase of a total of six vessels of both types but also reduced maintenance costs in the future. The Czapla fits in with the latest development trends of the European navies to increase the operational capabilities of this class of vessels by retro-fitting them with mission modules. Next to the Czapla-specific module dedicated to mine countermeasures, the vessel can also carry other types, including reconnaissance, hydrographic or welfare modules.

Another type of a Polish Navy patrol vessel will be the ORP ŚLĄZAK, to be based on the unfinished hull of the Gawron multi-purpose corvette. Despite a configuration change in the equipment of the originally planned vessel, the Ślązak will be an extremely seaworthy, fast patrol and escort vessel. It will also meet the requirements for group command vessels and will be a platform to carry mission modules.

The planned construction of three cutting-edge KORMORAN-type Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MCMV) by a consortium of Polish companies will be an important development for Polish defence and Poland’s involvement in allied operations alike. The hulls of these vessels will be made of amagnetic steel, with the equipment composed of systems delivered by Polish designers.

A completely new category in the Polish Navy will be represented by the Joint Support Ship (JSS), code name MARLIN, which due to its displacement will also be the Polish Navy’s largest vessel. Having this type of vessel not only follows from the Polish Armed Forces’ operational requirements but is also part of the NATO Sea Basing Concept, which includes the transport of army and special operations components to a deployment area, plus their operation and support from this vessel. Next to its military purpose, the Marlin will also be used to evacuate Polish citizens from threatened regions of the world and to provide humanitarian aid in any location on the globe. The vessel will also act as a hospital and command vessel.

A shared hull design will be used for the reconnaissance vessel, code name DELFIN, and the hydrographic vessel, code name HYDROGRAF. A rescue vessel, code name RATOWNIK, will be somewhat larger than the previous two; it will mainly perform military tasks relating to own and allied forces, but will also be part of the national and international sea rescue system.

Moreover, unmanned vehicles (drones) will be introduced as the Polish Navy’s new equipment category, which is now a standard in state-of-the-art naval forces. Operating in the subsea and sea-surface environment and in the air, unmanned vehicles make it possible to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of sea operations. They will be used from both on-board vessels and on-shore positions.

It is difficult to imagine a Navy without a naval air force. Based on the Air Force Operational Programme, six cutting-edge ship-based helicopters will be purchased, dedicated to submarine countermeasures and rescue missions. Three Maritime Patrol Aircraft are also to be introduced.

Implemented in an effective and timely fashion, the 2013-2022 Operational Programme will make it possible to halt the gradual regression of the Polish naval fleet’s potential, as seen in recent years. It will also bring about a considerable increase in the combat capabilities and operational prowess of the Polish Navy.