A Finnish warship hitches a ride on deck
The Finnish Navy’s latest mine countermeasure purchase is transported from the Mediterranean to the Baltic aboard a special cargo vessel
By Jarmo Huhtanen
The naval vessel Katanpää, ordered by the Finnish Navy from an Italian yard, will arrive in Finland this week.
However, she will not be sailing into Turku under her own steam.
The 52-metre and 680-ton Katanpää will be transported from Italy to Finland aboard a special cargo vessel called the Happy Dover.
The Happy Dover is a specialty heavy lift vessel of nearly 160 metres in length, onto the deck of which the Katanpää was hoisted the weekend before last.
By Thursday of last week, the Happy Dover had already passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and was heading in a north-westerly direction towards the coast of Portugal.
Lieutenant Commander Kristian Isberg from the Finnish Navy explains that according to plans Katanpää should be lowered back into the water in Turku this coming Friday.
There are two further Katanpää-class vessels also under construction. They have been named Purunpää and Vahterpää.
The Katanpää-class ships are multipurpose mine countermeasure vessels, for which the Finnish Navy has adopted a new prefix MHC for "Mine Hunter Coastal”.
The vessel type is completely new in the Finnish Navy.
According to Isberg, who has been in charge of the project, this latest acquisition by the Finnish Navy has raised an exceptionally large amount of interest also in the foreign military media.
With the introduction of the Katanpää class, the Finnish Defence Forces are said to have taken on a completely new branch of service within the Navy.
The purchase of the mine countermeasure vessels has to do with the Navy’s effort to alter the focus of its activities.
In the future, the emphasis will be on safeguarding maritime traffic, rather than preventing seaborne invasions.
The Katanpää-class vessels utilise the very latest technology in locating and destroying naval mines. The ships have been equipped exceptionally comprehensively.
Their equipment arsenal includes, for example, independently-moving underwater robots (sonars), cable-guided underwater vehicles, plus various probes, some of which are attached to the hull, and some of which can be towed behind the ship.
The construction of mine countermeasure vessels is an extremely demanding undertaking.
For one, their laminated composite hull has to withstand underwater blasts, and because of the risk of mines the screw system has to be unnoticeable.
The Katanpää was launched two years behind its original schedule for the reason that the shipbuilder Intermarine's Sarzana shipyard near La Spezia was overcome by a flood, not once but twice in the course of 2009.
Katanpää’s sister vessel Purunpää will commence its sea trials in the autumn, and it will be delivered to the Finnish Navy next winter.
The last of the three vessels ordered, Vahterpää, will arrive in Finland in the summer of 2013.
The combined price of the three warships is said to be nearly EUR 250 million.
The ships will enter into operative use by 2015.
Katanpää will be showcased to the general public in Helsinki on the annual Navy Day on July 9th.
Those interested in the subject had a chance to familiarise themselves in advance with a French Tripartite-class mine countermeasure vessel already last weekend, when a detachment of the French Navy paid a courtesy visit to Helsinki’s Katajanokka.
Two mine countermeasure vessels and one corvette were included in the visiting flotilla.
The Finnish public had access to the ships on Saturday and Sunday.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 25.5.2012
Katanpää-class mine countermeasure vessel (Wikipedia)
JARMO HUHTANEN / Helsingin Sanomat