The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVSEA) has awarded SAFE Boats International another contract for work on Ukraine’s Mark VI (MK VI) patrol boat program.
The latest contract modification is worth $84.2 million and includes delivery of six MK VI patrol boats, with an option for two more.
The contract follows an earlier one from January this year, under which the company will deliver the first two boats to Ukraine by December 2022.
Overall, the US State Department approved a potential military sale of up to 16 of the patrol boats to the Eastern European country for an estimated $600 million.
The latest contract brings the total number of boats ordered to eight, with a scheduled delivery by March 2025.
The Mark VI patrol boats would complement Ukraine’s 23-meter Gyurza-M patrol boats, six of which are currently in service with the Ukraine Navy.
Specifically designed to patrol riverine and littoral waters, the MK VI patrol boats are already in service with the US Navy as part of the expeditionary combat command’s fleet of combatant craft. However, reports from earlier this year indicate that the US Navy plans to retire its fleet of 17 almost brand new MK VIs partly because of a shift of focus in the service and partly because of their costly maintenance.
The ship-transportable 25-meter boats are reconfigurable for a variety of missions and can support deployment of unmanned surface and aerial vehicles. They have a range of over 600 nautical miles and can embark a total of 18 personnel, including crew.
In addition to US boats, Ukraine is also beefing up its naval capabilities under an agreement with the United Kingdom.
While few details are currently available, Ukraine will work with UK’s Babcock on upgrading current platforms and procuring new fast attack missile craft. In addition to new attack craft and the purchase of two former Royal Navy minehunting vessels, the two countries will also collaborate on creating a new naval base on the Black Sea.