The end of the “eternal renovation”. Does Poland need submarines? “The answer is clear”

The end of the "eternal renovation".  Does Poland need submarines?  "The answer is clear"

On March 11, the Navy announced the completion of tests of the ORP Orzeł submarine. Thus, the “eternal” renovation of the last ship of this class in the Polish fleet has ended, and it urgently needs a successor.

The “eternal” renovation began in 2014 and – despite numerous declarations – was unlucky. In addition to the implementation of the commissioned works, additional elements were added – in 2015, the ship collided with the floating dock of the shipyard in Gdynia, and in 2017, a fire broke out on board.

Additionally, the Navy decided not to carry out a thorough repair, and for this reason, subsequent malfunctions had to be repaired by numerous small companies under separate contracts. The lack of a comprehensive approach to the problem has resulted in the ship's operational potential leaving much to be desired.

ORP Orzeł entered service in 1986, according to unofficial information, its technical condition corresponds to the original one – as you can easily imagine, this may be a gulf, taking into account the state of development of electronic systems over the last 40 years. Additionally, a major disadvantage is the fact that the unit cannot count on factory support from the manufacturer's country, because it was built in the then USSR.

While until 2014 it was possible to obtain access to spare parts through various channels, now it is no longer possible (also due to the lack of used ships of a similar standard in friendly countries).

The issue of purchasing new submarines, and remember that since regaining independence in 1945, the currently used ORP Orzeł is the only brand new representative of this class in the history of the Navy, has been going on for over 27 years.

At that time, Poland only managed to acquire five used Kobben-class submarines from Norway – they were to constitute a “bridge solution” until the supplier of Western units was selected.

Ultimately, no choice was made so far, and the Kobbens themselves have already completed their service in the Navy – one of them can be seen at the Naval Academy, and the other will soon become an attraction of the Naval Museum in Gdynia. The lack of perspectives, as well as the current geopolitical situation, mean that decision-makers once again do not have much room for maneuver in terms of the time necessary for the fleet.

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