New Ships Buoy Ukrainian Fleet
U.S. Navy donates two "Island-class" vessels; handover ceremony held in Odesa.
Odesa — The “Sloviansk” and “Starobilsk” vessels were officially accepted into service in the Ukrainian naval forces Thursday as Ukrainian flags were hoisted on both ships in a handover ceremony.
Both vessels were tested at sea and soon will receive new weapons systems. The main task of the ships will be patrol duties in order to combat illegal immigration, smuggling operations, and piracy. A research ship “Oleksandr Okhrymenko” was also accepted into service.
“It is very important for us. This is how we are increasing our presence at sea. The research vessel Oleksandr Okhrymenko can be used for search operations, as well as a patrol boat and transport ship,” Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko said.
The fast attack Island-class ships were transferred for free; Ukraine paid only for transportation and refitting. The vessels arrived in Odesa from the U.S. port of Baltimore last month.
Navy personnel were trained on how to operate the ship and how to perform repairs in Baltimore. The captain of the Starobilsk, Damir Aulin, said, “After we outfit the vessel, we will specify capabilities. All of it depends on which weaponry will be installed. We did not undergo combat training in the USA.”
“The edition of these boats to Ukraine’s naval fleet will expand the Ukrainian Navy’s operational capacity and response potential to defend the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Boats will also provide greater situational awareness in the Black Sea, increasing the security of Ukraine’s coastline and shipping lands, and they will help Ukraine to prevent smuggling through its waters,” Acting Head of USA Diplomatic Mission to Ukraine Joseph Pennington said.
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to transfer three more Island-class battleships to the Ukrainian military.