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French yard launches first FPB 98 boat for Ukraine as US delivers more Island-class units

FPB 98 MKI patrol boat for Ukraine
Photo: OCEA

French shipbuilder Ocea has launched the first FPB 98 MKI patrol boat which will be used by Ukraine to patrol the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The first of 20 patrol vessels ordered in November 2019 was launched on December 9 at OCEA’s site in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Five of the twenty FPB 98 MKI vessels ordered will be built by Nibulon Shipyard, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The fleet is accompanied by a set of services including crew training, ship maintenance and technical assistance to the customer during the warranty phase.

The first vessel is to arrive from France to Odessa in Ukraine next spring.

The FPB MKI have a range of 1,200 nautical miles and are designed for maritime safety missions from one to two weeks within the exclusive economic zone. Each of the 32-meter vessels will be equipped with a modern optoelectronic surveillance system and a RHIB for the reconnaissance groups of the border guards.

The launch took place three days after the United States formally handed over an additional two Island-class patrol boats to Ukraine on December 6. The latest delivery brought the total number of former US Coast Guard boats in Ukrainian service to four. A fifth and final one is scheduled for delivery next year.

In addition to second-hand Island-class boats, the US is also building brand new Mark VI (MK VI) patrol boats with 8 units on order so far. Ukraine has been cleared to buy up to 16 MK VIs for an estimated $600 million.

In addition to the French and US newbuilds, Ukraine is working with the United Kingdom on enhancing its navy’s capabilities through the introduction of new naval platforms, which will include the transfer of former Royal Navy minehunters to Ukraine, base enhancements and training programs.