The Polish Navy commissioned a recently delivered offshore patrol vessel (OPV) into service in a ceremony on Thursday, November 28.
ORP Ślązak (“Silesian”) is the sole example of a planned series of OPVs that are licence-built variants of the MEKO family of warships developed by Germany’s Blohm+Voss.
Built by local shipyard Stocznia Marynarki Wojennej, the 95- by 13-metre Ślązak was intended to be one of seven Project 621 or Gawron (“Rook”) class corvettes slated for the Polish Navy. However, the financial crisis that had gripped the country in 2010 led to funding shortfalls and delays in construction, thus compelling Warsaw to order the cancellation of the remaining six ships in the class in 2012.
Ślązak‘s construction had encountered delays of its own, and the vessel was finally launched into the water in June 2015, nearly 14 years after the keel was laid.
Further, the incorporation of its intended combat systems would have carried an estimated cost of PLN 1 billion (US$320 million in 2012), which Polish defence officials had deemed as too expensive in light of the vessel’s standalone cost of approximately PLN 100 million (US$32 million in 2012).
Ślązak was thus completed as a more lightly armed OPV equipped with a 76-millimetre naval gun, two 30-millimetre cannons, four 12.7-millimetre machine guns, and four light surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Had the vessel been completed as a corvette as originally planned, it would have also had provisions for torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and SAMs with more powerful warheads in addition to the 76-millimetre gun.
The OPV also has a helicopter deck and facilities for launching and recovering two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).
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