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Thales UK’s naval business has been awarded the prime contractorship in a warship reactivation programme following an agreement between the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Lithuanian government.

The MoD and the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence have signed a sales agreement on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth, UK, for the acquisition and reactivation of two former Royal Navy minehunters.

The Hunt-class vessels – HMS Cottesmore and HMS Dulverton – were converted in 1997 by the Royal Navy from their original use as minehunters into patrol vessels.

The vessels were later declared surplus to requirements and put on the MoD list for disposal in 2004.

In 2006 Thales UK approached the MoD and offered to use its international marketing and sales expertise to help find a country that was interested in purchasing the ships for use in their original minehunting role.

This approach led to detailed discussions with the Lithuanian Navy to upgrade the vessels with a technologically advanced minehunting system.

The ship regeneration package represents a departure for Thales UK, building on the naval architecture and engineering expertise already established in the company to support the design work on CVF, the Royal Navy’s Future Aircraft Carrier.

The design approach has been agreed with the MoD and Lithuania, and Thales is now actively engaged in the selection procedure for the various subcontracts involved in the programme.

This will include fitting the hull-mounted Sonar 2193 system, propulsion, command and control systems, plus mine disposal systems.

The ships are expected to enter service with the Lithuanian Navy by 2011.

The work has been led from Thales UK in Bristol, with support from Templecombe on mission systems.

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