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Preliminary 3D rendering of the Pohjanmaa class
|Builders:||Rauma Marine Constructions|
|Cost:||1.3 billion euro (estimate)|
|In commission:||2022 onwards (planned)|
|General characteristics |
|Displacement:||Approximately 3,900 tons|
|Length:||114 m (374 ft)|
|Beam:||16 m (52 ft)|
|Draught:||5 m (16 ft)|
|Propulsion:||Combined diesel-electric and gas (CODELAG)|
|Speed:||Over 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph)|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
|Aviation facilities:||Helideck for one helicopter or UAVs|
The Pohjanmaa class is a series of four multi-role corvettes currently under development for the Finnish Navy as part of the Squadron 2020 (Finnish: Laivue 2020) project. Together with the existing four Hamina-class missile boats, the four new surface combatants will form the backbone of the Finnish Navy from the mid-2020s onwards. They will replace seven older vessels that have been or are due to be decommissioned: the minelayer Pohjanmaa, two Hämeenmaa-class minelayers and four Rauma-class missile boats.
The overall length of the Pohjanmaa-class corvettes is 114 m (374 ft), and the beam spans 16 m (52 ft). The ships displace about 3,900 tonnes (3,800 long tons; 4,300 short tons). Each ship compliments a crew of 70–120.
Combat system and armament
The surface-to-air missile system was selected in a competition between MBDA's Sea Ceptor, the Indo-Israeli Barak 8, and the U.S. Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM), with the latter being selected. The missile is built by Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems in Aberdeen, South Dakota, builds the 8-cell Mk 41 quad missile canisters, of which the vessels are going to be equipped with the 7.7 m (25 ft)-long strike-length variant. Each ship will therefore be able to carry 32 ESSM missiles.
The anti-ship missiles were also selected in a competition between the Israeli IAI's Gabriel 5 missile, MBDA's Exocet MM40, the Swedish RBS-15 Mk.IV, the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and the U.S. RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles and RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles. The Gabriel 5 was selected in 2018.
The anti-submarine torpedoes are going to be the Swedish Torped 47 design, a light-weight torpedo, optimized for Baltic Sea conditions. The Finnish navy is going to loan and train with the earlier Swedish design Torped 45 until the final delivery of the model 47. The ASW sensor suite is consisting of a dual-tow Patria Sonac DTS system that consists of both an active variable depth sonar and a passive towed thin-line receiving array that can be used together or independently. The system has been designed specifically for Baltic Sea conditions.
The combat management system 9LV CMS by Saab Electronic Defence Systems was shortlisted in April 2019, it was selected over Atlas Elektronik (ANCS) or Lockheed Martin (CMS 330). The vessels are to be equipped with Saab's Integrated Lightweight Mast (SLIM).
The vessels will also be able to lay sea mines, e.g. the British PM85, or the Finnish PM04 or PM16.
Development and construction
The development of the Pohjanmaa class started with a research and planning phase in 2008. The design phase began in 2015 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2019. The last of the four vessels is expected to achieve full operational status by 2028.
The vessels are to be constructed at the Rauma Marine Constructions shipyard in Rauma, Finland. The project's objective was to enhance localization and development of warship construction industry in Finland. The Pohjanmaa class are going to be the longest naval vessels of the Finnish Navy, surpassing the 93-metre (305 ft) long Ilmarinen and Väinämöinen, though the latters were wider.
The vessels will take on numerous roles, the training role from Hämeenmaa, the minelaying role from Pohjanmaa and the Hämeenmaas, the surface combatant role from the Raumas, as well as add extended anti-aircraft, additional anti-submarine and surveillance capabilities. The new vessels will become operational in 2022–2028.
On March 18 2019 the Ministry of Defence put out a press release about the procurement decision being postponed due to the resignation of the Cabinet on March 8 only a month and six days before Parliamentary election.
One of the Finnish navy's traditions has been to name its major vessels after regions in Finland. The name Pohjanmaa, which is the Finnish name for the region Ostrobothnia, has been used both by the Finnish and Swedish navies for previous ships and classes of ships, dating back to the 18th century with the first recorded vessel being Gamla Pojama ("Old Pohjanmaa"), that was launched in 1760, and the last one, being the minelayer/training vessel Pohjanmaa, which was sold in 2016. The aforementioned 18th century Pohjanmaa, alongside the Hämeenmaa, Uusimaa and Turunmaa classes were also the four main "archipelago frigate" classes used in the 1790 Battle of Svensksund, which is one of the largest Finnish (Finland was a part of Sweden at the time) naval victories and the largest naval battle in the Baltic Sea to date.
Corvette or frigate?
While the Finnish Navy and the Ministry of Defence refer to the new surface combatants as multi-role corvettes, several commentators have pointed out that by displacement the 3,900-tonne (3,800-long-ton) vessels should be classified as frigates.[Note 1] In late September 2019, shortly after the construction contract was awarded, MP Johannes Yrttiaho (Left Alliance) submitted a written question to the Parliament of Finland about, among other related topics, the classification of the new vessels.
In the official blog of the Finnish Defence Forces, Flotilla admiral Jori Harju (Commander of the Finnish Navy) noted that one of the reasons leading to the increased displacement is the additional strengthening of the hull, propulsion shaft lines and propellers required for year-round operation in the seasonally freezing Finnish territorial waters. He also pointed out that the Pohjanmaa class is intended to operate primarily in coastal waters whereas frigates are traditionally considered as the smallest class of warships operating in the high seas as part of a so-called blue-water navy.
Too large for Finland?
Since the early 2000s, Finnish Navy's surface combatant fleet has consisted mainly of fast attack craft with displacements of 250 to 300 tonnes (250 to 300 long tons). Until the planned commission of the new Pohjanmaa-class, the largest surface combatants of the Finnish Navy remain the two Hämeenmaa-class minelayers. Several commentators have criticized the Squadron 2020 program due to the size of the new corvettes: according to critics, the vessels are too large for the often shallow Finnish territorial waters riddled with skerries as well as too attractive and large targets for Russian anti-ship missiles. Furthermore, it has been speculated that the vessel size has been driven by their suitability for international missions rather than domestic defence needs.
The Finnish Navy has argued that the size of the new ships is a result of combining multiple missions within a single hull. In particular, the ability to lay naval mines has been raised as one of the key features necessitating a larger vessel.
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- Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa
- Pojama - an 18th Century class of warships, named after the same region.