Hamina Class vessel by Aurajoki. Source: HaminaHamina Class vessel by Aurajoki, Turku, Finland.

Finnish Navy Bolsters Defense with Modernized Hamina-Class Vessels Amidst European Naval Upgrades

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The Finnish Navy has achieved a milestone in its naval capabilities with the completion of a significant modernisation and Mid-Life Upgrade project for its Hamina-Class vessels. Various other navies, like the German, the Dutch and the British, are modernizing their fleets, too.

The Finnish Defence Forces, in collaboration with Patria, the Finnish defence, security, and aerospace company, have successfully upgraded four vessels, a contract that was initially signed in 2018. As the prime contractor and lead system integrator, Patria has not only enhanced the vessels’ combat systems but also bolstered the Navy’s readiness to counter multifaceted maritime threats.

The Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) includes advanced torpedo and surface-to-surface missile systems and an upgraded surface-to-air missile system, enabling Finnish vessels to engage threats in the air, on the surface, and underwater. A state-of-the-art Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) based training target system has also been incorporated, significantly enhancing anti-submarine warfare training.

Esa Rautalinko, President and CEO of Patria, highlighted the criticality of maintaining domestic expertise in defence technologies, especially given the current security climate. The project has underscored Finland’s commitment to defence readiness, setting a benchmark in times when other European nations have faced criticism for neglecting defence development.

Jussi Järvinen, EVP of Patria Finland Division, pointed out the MLU’s substantial contribution to the Finnish economy, generating around 300 person-years of employment. The delivery of the last modernized vessel in 2022 marked the completion of this phase of the Navy’s upgrade.

A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) during exercise Pacific Griffin. The NSM is a long-range, precision strike weapon that is designed to find and destroy enemy ships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Released)

Strategic Importance Is Recognized In Europe

This development comes at a time when several European naval forces are also pursuing extensive modernisation efforts. The German Navy has recently launched a program to upgrade its frigate fleet, with a focus on enhanced missile systems and interoperability with NATO forces. Similarly, the Royal Netherlands Navy is undertaking a life-extension program for its air-defence and command frigates, aiming to equip them with advanced sensor suites and combat systems.

The British Royal Navy is not far behind, with the ongoing introduction of the Type 26 frigate, designed to be a versatile multi-mission vessel with sophisticated anti-submarine warfare capabilities. In the Mediterranean, the Italian Navy has been working on incorporating new multi-role offshore patrol vessels, highlighting a trend of increased versatility and multi-domain proficiency in naval platforms.

These upgrades across European fleets are reflective of a growing recognition of the strategic importance of maritime security in the face of evolving threats. The Finnish Navy, with its modernized Hamina-Class vessels and the upcoming Pohjanmaa-Class corvettes, is poised to be at the forefront of Northern Europe’s maritime defence through the 2030s.

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