Second-hand Norwegian Submarine for the Polish Navy?

General Adam Duda, chief of the Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence, announced that the organ is currently in talks with Norway, regarding potential joint acquisition of submarines for the Navies of both countries. Duda added that the Norwegians are willing to provide Poland with one of the Ula class submarines that the Norwegian Navy is using, until the new vessels are introduced into use. At the moment, Polish Navy uses four Kobben-class submarines acquired from the Norwegian Navy’s surplus.

During the meeting of the Sub-Committee which works on the issues related to the Polish defence industry and modernization of the Polish Army, which took place on 17th March 2016, head of the Armament Inspectorate, General Adam Duda, announced that negotiations with the Norwegians are under way and that the stage at which the process is is “fairly advanced”. The aim of the talks would be to jointly acquire submarines for the Navies of both countries (Polish Orka programme). Duda stated that according to the talks and arrangements made so far, at the level of the interested armed services, “requirements of the Norwegian and Polish parties are fairly convergent.

General Duda added that the Poles are satisfied with the fact that the Norwegian Navy is looking for a solution with a track-proven technological record, and that the Norwegians “are not willing to experiment, using unproven solutions, [as they are] searching for vessels in case of which a technological risk does not exist”.

Moreover, the Norwegians are also willing to provide assistance for the Polish Navy in the process of bridging the capability gap, before the newly acquired submarines are introduced into service, by providing Poland, for the period within which the new vessels will be constructed, with one of the Norwegian vessels. According to Duda, the period of construction works required to create a submarine at the best shipbuilding companies is defined as ca. 5 years, with standard 6 years-long waiting period.

The talks so far have been carried out between the Armed Forces. The work-plan has also been discussed, throughout the preliminary stage of the said negotiations. It would also be required to formalize the agreement at the political level.

Let us recall the fact that according to the information provided to us by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence back in September 2015, the recommendation for the Norwegian government and the parliament, regarding the procurement process pertaining the submarines, would be presented in 2016. The contract is expected to be concluded before 2020, while the first deliveries are expected in the midst of the next decade. It was noted that Norway assumes an evolutionary approach towards the new vessel, and that procurement is going to be based on an existing project, with a vessel being constructed at a reputable shipyard with relevant qualifications.

On the other hand, the Polish Navy, at the moment, uses the Kobben-class submarines, coming from the surplus inventory of the Norwegian Navy. The vessels in question have been manufactured in the 1960s. Despite the modernization, urgent replacement is required, due to the operational wear. Besides the Kobben class submarines, Polish Navy also uses a younger, Soviet-made ORP “Orzeł” vessel, dating back to the 1980s.