Ukraine’s two new minehunters prepare for multi-national exercises

Written by Nick Blenkey
Ukrainian minehunters

Two minehunters transferred from the U.K. to Ukraine are now in Portsmouth. [Photo: U.K. MoD]

Two Ukrainian minehunter ships, recently transferred from the U.K. Royal Navy to Ukraine’s navy, have arrived in Portsmouth, England ahead of a series of multi-national naval exercises.

The arrival of the ships, now named Cherkasy and Chernihiv, marks a significant step in the U.K.’s work to support the transformation and modernization of Ukraine’s Navy.

Having sailed down from where they were previously based in Scotland, the two minehunters and their crew will start preparing for their first operational exercises since their transfer to the Ukrainian Navy was fully completed.

The ships are currently not able to enter the Black Sea due to the terms of the Montreux Convention, which restricts passage of military vessels through the Bosphorus Strait in times of war. However, they will form a critical capability to support the longer-term capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy as it looks to protect commercial shipping by detecting and disabling sea mines.

The transfer of the minehunters to Ukraine’s Navy was announced to coincide with the launch of the Maritime Capability Coalition, which the U.K. jointly leads with Norway, to provide assistance to Ukraine’s navy – including training, equipment, and infrastructure, to bolster security in the Black Sea region.

Ukraine has sunk or disabled around a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the start of the conflict through a series of precision-guided missile strikes and innovative use of maritime one-way attack drones. With support from the U.K., Ukraine’s Black Sea activity has meant, despite ongoing Russian strikes against the Odesa oblast, Ukraine has almost certainly exported more grain through its seaports in the first months of 2024 than at any time since the outbreak of the war.

Both minehunter shipd will now be rebased in Portsmouth, where they will be prepared to take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 24, a joint countermeasure exercise between the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy and Ukrainian Navy. This exercise will improve the ability of Ukraine’s navy to operate alongside NATO nations, increase agility amongst NATO navies, and demonstrates the UK and allies’ shared commitment to security and stability.

Transfer of the ships, previously named Shoreham and Grimsby, began last year – with both taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior 23 and Exercise Sea Breeze 23 in U.K. waters. Their transfer earlier this year was made possible by a buyer credit facility guarantee provided by the U.K. government’s export credit agency, U.K. Export Finance.

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