Katanpää class on the road to NRF readiness
The Navy will commit the Katanpää-class mine countermeasures vessels to the NATO Response Force pool for a period of one year starting from 1 January 2020.
The NATO Response Force, NRF, is a high-readiness force that can be used in various types of NATO operations. As a condition for participating, an evaluation is required to be conducted on a vessel to demonstrate that it is ready to operate in NRF operations. At the end of 2018, as concerns the Katanpää class, the capability was verified and approved as mine countermeasures vessel Vahterpää passed the demanding NATO OCC evaluation (Operational Capabilities, Concept Evaluation and Feedback).
The evaluation process took about 18 months. The evaluation culminated in the Northern Coasts 2018 exercise as the international evaluation team assigned by NATO observed exercises on Vahterpää for one week during the exercise. The team observed specifically the level of know-how of the crew performing a range of tasks and exercises on the vessel. The crew members were interviewed as well.
The evaluation successfully passed by Vahterpää also covered sister vessels Katanpää and Purunpää. All these three Katanpää-class vessels are identical, and their personnel have received equivalent training.
The road of the Katanpää class to the NATO Response Force and full operational readiness continues in the autumn of 2019 through a MOST evaluation (Mine Countermeasure Vessels Operational Sea Training). It involves training organised by the NATO Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence, and it will focus specifically on mine countermeasures competency evaluation.
The vessels will take turns standing in readiness
During the NRF rotation year, each of the Katanpää-class vessels will take turns standing in readiness. The Finnish Navy will maintain the mobilization readiness of the vessel and get prepared to send it as the Navy’s military crisis management unit if requested, in accordance with the Act on Military Crisis Management within 60 days of a decision made by the Finnish political leadership.
-The 60 day time window will permit the Navy to use its vessels for national tasks during that year, the Commander of the 4th Mine Countermeasures Squadron, Commander Mika Raunu emphasises.
- In practice, there is a possibility that participating in the NRF pool will result in an increase in the number of combined exercises with Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1, says Raunu, - Of course, enhancing our national capability is the most important objective.
Finland’s participation in the activities of the NATO Response Force is based on Finland’s role as a NATO Partnership for Peace country.
Information about the Katanpää class
The Katanpää class consists of three mine countermeasures vessels: Katanpää, Purunpää, and Vahterpää. The abbreviation MHC (Mine Hunter Coastal) comes before the names of the vessels. The vessels represent the newest Navy vessel equipment, and they entered into service between 2012-2017.
The main tasks of the vessels comprise safeguarding of maritime traffic, mine countermeasures and seabed mapping. Other tasks include adding detail to maritime picture, anti-submarine warfare, executive assistance tasks and international tasks. Each vessel is equipped with a 40 mm gun and two 12,7 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, or two 40 mm automatic grenade launchers, as well as depth charges.
The vessels are equipped with extremely versatile sensors for mine hunting and seabed mapping, as well as mine clearing systems. Each vessel also has a pressure chamber for divers. The vessels have 36 - member crews each, including 12 conscripts in training.
Length: 52.5 m
Width: 9.5 m
Depth: 3.2 m
Displacement: 730 tn
Speed: 13 knots