On April 11th, two minehunters belonging to the Ukrainian Navy arrived at the port of Portsmouth. These vessels, donated by the United Kingdom, will join NATO forces to participate in the annual Sea Breeze 2024 exercise.

The minehunter Cherkasy entering Portsmouth. Photo: Royal Navy.

The minehunters Cherkasy and Chernihiv (formerly known as HMS Shoreham and HMS Grimsby) arrived in southern England to prepare operationally for the Sea Breeze military maneuvers. This exercise has been held annually since 1997 with the participation of NATO members, and the 2024 edition is one of the largest.

Regarding the participation of the Ukrainian ships, Defense Secretary Grant Shapps stated, “The United Kingdom is leading the way in helping Ukraine modernize its Navy. The transfer of these vessels and the excellent training provided by the Royal Navy will have a real long-term impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend its waters. We continue to support Ukraine as it deals significant blows to Putin’s Black Sea Fleet. In doing so, they are securing vital corridors for exporting grains and other materials, supporting their economy against Russia’s bombardment.”

Photo: Royal Navy

On December 11th of last year, the United Kingdom and Norway announced the creation of a new Maritime Capability Coalition to bolster the reconstruction of the Ukrainian Navy. Simultaneously, the Royal Navy donated the two aforementioned minehunter vessels. Both ships were part of the contingent that took part in last year’s Joint Warrior and Sea Breeze exercises.

The primary role of these vessels will be the detection, identification, and neutralization of maritime mines along the Ukrainian coast to ensure the safe passage of commercial grain transportation. This donation is not the United Kingdom’s first contribution to Ukraine, as the British government has provided assistance exceeding $9 billion USD.

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