Construction of the first of four Pohjanmaa-class multi-role corvettes has started at Rauma shipyard (Rauma Marine Construction, RMC), a major project for the Finnish Navy that has been significantly delayed.
A contract was awarded to RMC to build the corvettes in 2019, but in late 2021 the yard announced that it would need up to 12 months to complete the design of the vessels.
RMC finally held a steel cutting ceremony for the first ship in the class on 30 October 2023. The new corvettes are a key plank in the ‘Squadron 2020’ project. The first of the new vessels is due to enter service by 2029. The new class is due to remain in service in the Finnish defence forces into the 2050s.
The high-performance vessels are designed to operate year-round in the Baltic and will be capable of sustained operations in all weather conditions regardless of how much ice there is in the Baltic. The vessels are capable of repelling surface targets and submarines, laying mines and acting as command centres for naval operations.
Equipped with a layered self-protection system based on air-defence missiles, the vessels’ surveillance capability will be complemented with signal intelligence capability, naval artillery, decoys and chaff.
Introduction into service of the new corvettes will also bring about changes in the Finnish Navy’s operating doctrine as well. The new capabilities that the vessels provide will enable use of fire against ground targets, and more extensive cooperation with other units in the Finnish defence force. In addition to participating in domestic operations, the vessels will also be able to participate in operations with NATO’s Standing Naval Force.
The corvettes are being constructed in a newly built multipurpose construction hall that was built specifically for the corvette project. The hall will ensure excellent conditions for production. RMC has also made significant investments in steel production, which will allow for the welding of thinner plate used in the new vessels.
The new corvettes will be 117m in length with a breadth of 16m, draught of 5m and speed of 26knots. They will have a crew of 70 and will be equipped with four MAN 12V175D-MEL gensets with a total output of 7,700kW (4 × 1,920kW) and a single GE LM2500 has turbine in a CODLAG arrangement.
The gensets will be resiliently mounted to and be installed in noise enclosures for silent operation. The engines will be suitable for Arctic operation and capable of functioning in extremely low air-intake temperatures.
The vessels will have a 57mm Bofors main gun, two Trackfire remote weapon stations, and an ITO20 surface-to-air missile system comprising a Mk41 launcher and Evolved SeaSparrow missiles. They will also embark Gabriel anti-ship/surface-to-surface missiles and Saab lightweight torpedoes. The new corvettes will also be capable of hosting a helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles.