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British company Babcock secures major contract to maintain two mine countermeasure vessels.

| 2023

On December 15, 2023, Babcock International, a defense sector leader, announced securing a three-year contract to support and maintain two mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs), the Cherkasy and Chernihiv, for the Ukrainian Navy. Previously known as HMS Grimsby and HMS Shoreham of the British Royal Navy, these ships were officially transferred and renamed during a ceremony in Glasgow in July 2023.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001Sandown-class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs) HMS Grimsby, known today in the Ukrainian Navy as Chernihiv. (Picture source: Wikimedia)

As a primary industrial partner, this contract represents Babcock’s inaugural involvement in the Ukrainian Naval Capability Enhancement Program (UNCEP), which includes enhancing capabilities on existing naval platforms.

A team of mechanical and electrical engineers, in collaboration with manufacturers, will provide preventive maintenance and technical support. Babcock will leverage its experience with Sandown class MCMVs to enhance these ships, improving their operational capabilities and durability.

In addition to supporting and maintaining these ships for the Ukrainian Navy, Babcock has also established Babcock Ukraine Ltd and opened an office in Ukraine. This effort is focused on supporting Ukrainian clients and industrial partners, as part of the UNCEP, where Babcock plays a key role as a primary industrial partner.

This isn't the first time Babcock has been tasked with maintaining these vessels. The company undertook a comprehensive renovation and maintenance program on HMS Shoreham in 2016 for the Royal Navy, enhancing its operational capabilities and performing vital work on the Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) hull. This was necessary after discovering significant damage to the GRP hull. Subsequently, Babcock undertook renovation work on HMS Grimsby in 2018.

As a reminder, the initial agreement for this transfer was made between the British and Ukrainian governments during a visit of HMS Defender to Odessa in June 2021. This agreement was set against a tense geopolitical backdrop, especially following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, where the need for minehunters increased, particularly for maintaining open maritime routes in the Black Sea for Ukraine.

Sandown class MCMVs

It’s also important to note that other ships of this class have been transferred to different navies: Estonian, Romanian (September 2023), and Saudi Arabian.

Interestingly, before the transfer of each of these ships, they all underwent refurbishments in collaboration with Babcock.

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