The programme to acquire three multi-role frigates pk. Miecznik achieved another milestone on 31 January 2024. On the premises of the PGZ Stocznia Wojenna in Gdynia, a ceremony was held to lay the keel for the first of the Project 106 vessels – the future ORP Wicher.

The ceremony, attended by representatives of central and local authorities, the Polish Armed Forces, the Polish defence industry, business partners and others involved in the programme, was the first in 23 years to lay the keel for a new combat vessel for the Polish Navy at Jana Śmidowicza Street in Gdynia.

The keel is formally the bottom block of the future ORP Wicher with the number DB 04. In accordance with the regulations and provisions of the classification society, this object had to meet the requirements that allow further work on a vessel of this class. The block weighs more than 120 tonnes and measures 24 metres long by 18 metres wide. As part of the ceremony, a commemorative coin was welded into the bottom of the keel and a plaque with the date of its laying.

– The ceremony of laying the keel for the future ORP Wicher is more than just the fulfilment of a custom with which shipbuilders or, more broadly, Seafarers celebrate the birth of a new vessel. The finalisation of work on the bottom block of the first of the three multi-purpose ‘Miecznik’ is a caesura marking the beginning of a new stage in the history of the shipbuilding industry, the Polish Navy and our homeland. This is the first time that such a significant combat vessel, one of the pillars of our maritime security, which is an asset of the whole nation and our contribution to peace on the waters, seas and oceans of the world, is being built on Polish soil for Polish sailors- said in his speech the President of the Management Board of PGZ S.A. Sebastian Chwałek.

– Babcock is proud to work with the PGZ-M Miecznik consortium to support the delivery of new ships for the Polish Navy. The keel-laying ceremony marks a milestone in the construction programme. demonstrating the progress made in this national endeavour. The ‘Miecznik’ under construction, is based on Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 frigate design – which is also the foundation for the new Type 31 frigates being built for the UKsaid Paul Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Marine section at Babcock. – ‘Our relationship with our partners in Poland is strengthening as we share knowledge, technology and expertise across our project teams, which will continue to be developed over the coming months and years,he added.

– There would not be today’s ceremony without the changes that our shipyard has undergone in recent times. But these changes are not only the result of the building of modern halls, efficient machinery on which Miecznik is already being built, the professionalisation of the company’s management or the implementation of tools that are used in state-of-the-art companies. These changes are primarily the result of the crew’s trust in the Management Board and the good, joint work of our team – workers, engineers and specialists in purchasing and cooperation, thanks to which we have managed to turn the fortunes of this shipyard around over the last few years – from bankruptcy to a profit-generating company cooperating with world-class players – emphasised Paweł Lulewicz, President of PGZ Stocznia Wojenna – the host of the ceremony

The keel-laying ceremony is, in the tradition of seafarers, a ceremony organised to mark the completion of the first stage of construction of a new vessel. Historically, the keel, which is the axis of a ship’s structure, usually served as the keel of a new vessel. Nowadays, due to advances in ship technology, the classic keel has been superseded by flat keels, which are most often one or more bottom sections of a new ship.

Multipurpose frigates of the Miecznik type, also known as Project 106 vessels, will increase the capabilities of the Polish Navy in terms of conducting observation and control of sea areas, protection of naval bases, combating surface, underwater and land targets located in the coastal zone, as well as conducting air defence of the country from the sea direction, Due to their high air defence capabilities they will be a very valuable contribution to the allied operations carried out within the NATO.

Basic parameters of the Miecznik type frigates:

  • Overall length – approx. 138 m,
  • Maximum width – approx. 20 m,
  • Height – approx. 10 m (1 deck),
  • Maximum displacement (including auxiliary equipment and plating) – approx. 7,000 t,
  • Range – approx. 8,000 nautical miles,
  • Max speed – 28 knots,
  • Propulsion – 4 diesel reciprocating engines in CODAD configuration, 2 set screws,
  • Crew – 120 persons + about 60 additional personnel.

The launch of the ORP Wicher under construction is planned for 2026, and its incorporation into the structures of the Polish Navy in 2029. Finalisation of the programme pk. Miecznik is scheduled for completion in 2032.

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