The MoD and the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence have signed a sales agreement 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 marked for disposal in 2004.
Thales UK approached the MoD in 2006 to help it find a country that was interested in purchasing the ships for use in their original minehunting role. This in turn led to discussions with the Lithuanian Navy to upgrade the vessels with an advanced minehunting system.
A design approach has now been agreed with the MoD and Lithuania, and Thales is participating in the selection procedure for subcontracts involved in the programme. This will include fitting the hull-mounted Sonar 2193 system, propulsion, command-and-control systems, and mine-disposal systems.
The ships are expected to enter service with the Lithuanian Navy by 2011.