February 14, 2023 is a special day for all those in love with the Polish Navy. Another warship of project 258 – ORP Mewa was put into service. This is the third in a series of modern minehunters that were part of the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla.
The solemn ceremony of the first raising of the war flag took place at the Pomeranian Quay in the center of Gdynia, near Kosciuszko Square. The entire event was open to the public. The invitation to participate in this event was answered by the inhabitants of the Tri-City and Navy supporters from all over Poland, who flocked to the place of the ceremony.
Pursuant to the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Branches of the Polish Armed Forces regarding the first raising of the Navy flag, the white and red flag was solemnly raised on board minehunter number 603 for the first time. Thus, this unit was officially incorporated into the Navy. From today, ORP Mewa is serving in the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla, as part of the 13th Minesweeper Squadron in Gdynia.
The ceremony was honored by the presence of numerous guests, including the highest military authorities in the persons of the General Commander of the Branches of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Wiesław Kukuła and the Inspector of the Navy Vice Admiral Jarosław Ziemiański, as well as parliamentarians, local government officials, regional authorities and representatives of the shipbuilding industry. During the ceremony, Jacek Siewiera, Secretary of State – Head of the National Security Bureau, handed over the war flag to the first commander of the ship, Lieutenant Commander Bartosz Blaszke.
ORP Mewa is the third in a series of modern minehunters that went to Gdynia’s 13th Minesweeper Squadron. The first of the ORP Kormoran series entered service on November 28, 2017. The second in the series, ORP Albatros, raised the flag of the Polish Navy on its side for the first time on November 28, 2022. In December 2017, a month after the flag was raised on the prototype ORP Kormoran, a contract was signed for the construction of 2 more minehunters – Albatros and Mewa . The symbolic start of the construction of the ship with board number 603 the so-called the burning of the sheets took place on June 19, 2019, the keel was laid on October 10 of the same year, and the launching ceremony took place on December 17, 2020.
The ship was built by a consortium led by Stocznia Remontowa Shipbuilding SA. The consortium also included: Research and Development Center Centrum Techniki Morskiej SA in Gdynia and PGZ Stocznia Wojenna.
ORP Mewa is 58.5 meters long, over 10 meters wide and has a displacement of 830 tons. The hull is made of non-magnetic steel, which reduces the detectability of the ship’s physical fields. Its armament consists of the ship’s OSU-35K weapon system, which includes, among others, 35-mm AM-35K cannon and integrated ZGS-35K observation and tracking head. In addition, the ship has three large-caliber 12.7 mm WKM-Bm machine guns and two positions for operators of portable Grom missile launchers.
The unit was equipped with the SCOT-M combat management system, sonars and four types of underwater vehicles: Saab Double Eagle Sarov, Gavia, Kongsberg Hugin, and Głuptaki in two versions – inspection (used to identify underwater objects) and combat (intended to destroy objects dangerous). The ship’s propulsion consists of two Voith-Schneider cycloidal propellers driven by two 970 kW MTU diesel engines. Thanks to the use of this type of propulsion and the Schottel bow thruster, the ship has excellent manoeuvrability.
ORP Mewa and its twin ORP Albatros differ slightly from the prototype ORP Kormoran. In the case of mine countermeasure systems, they additionally received the KATFISH towed sonar by Kraken, the autonomous, unmanned underwater vehicle Gavia and the Double Eagle SAROV underwater vehicle controlled by cable or fiber optic cable (which replaced the previously used Morświn underwater vehicle manufactured by the Gdańsk University of Technology). Other specialist equipment was retained, such as the SHL-101/TM keel sonar, Kongsberg’s Hugin autonomous underwater vehicle, and the “Głuptak” self-propelled explosives. Other major changes include replacing the INDRA optoelectronic head with the FLIR 280, changing the integrated navigation bridge to ECPINS by OSI, as well as the installation of a more powerful 200 kW thruster, which directly improved the maneuverability of the unit. and systems on subsequent serial units.