TALLINN - Saaremaa-based company Baltic Workboats is the main contractor in the construction of a prototype of a multipurpose vessel for the Estonian Navy, which is estimated to cost 70 million euros.
If the project proves a success, several vessels of the same design would be built for the Navy by 2035, regional newspaper Saarte Haal reported.
The new boats are necessary because the life cycle of the minehunters that form the backbone of the Estonian Navy now will come to an end in 15 years. At present there is a situation in the Navy where minehunters are performing also other tasks in addition to the ones they were built for.
The new boats would be of modular design, meaning that the same platform can be easily used for the performance of various tasks. This means that by replacing modules, the boat can be easily converted from a minehunter to a patrol boat or a surveillance vessel.
The design of the vessel should also meet the needs of the Police and Border Guard Board.
Defense Minister Kalle Laanet drew a parallel between the project and Estonia's small size as a country, which means that the capability to react rapidly to changes is essential.
The new boats would have autonomous control capability under certain conditions. In addition to a control system enabled by artificial intelligence, the platform requires secure communications and a cyber security solution.
The aim is for the boat to be able to operate as far from the shore as possible with as little manpower as possible. While at present such technologies are still relatively complex, under conditions of rapid development of technology relevant options are expected to be widespread already in the next decade.
In addition to Estonia, Latvia has confirmed its participation in the project and negotiations are underway with several other countries situated on the Baltic Sea.
The main defense industry contractor from Estonia is Baltic Workboats, which has built smaller military vessels also earlier. Most recently, it completed the force protection vessels Risto and Roland for the Estonian Navy.
Baltic Workboats management board member Juri Taal described the project as a serious challenge, in which they can use their many years of experience in the field in question.