Harman Patil

Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa

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Name  Pohjanmaa
Ordered  1977
Laid down  4 May 1978
Operator  Finnish Navy
Yard number  421
Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa
Builder  Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard

Pohjanmaa is a former minelayer of the Finnish Navy. The sole member of her class, she was the flagship of the Finnish Navy as well as the largest naval ship in service in Finland until 2013. The ship has an Finnish-Swedish ice class 1A so she can operate all year round. During a crisis, the main task for Pohjanmaa would have been mine laying and acting as a command ship. She also acted as a school ship for the Naval Academy cadets. Part of their training includes an annual cruise abroad.

Contents

The 34-year-old Pohjanmaa was scheduled for decommissioning in late 2013. In October 2013, minelayer Hämeenmaa took over the role of flagship of the Finnish Navy.

Pohjanmaa was sold to the Finnish company Meritaito in 2016 and refitted as a survey vessel. She was renamed Pohjanmeri, Finnish for the North Sea.

History

Pohjanmaa was built in 1979 at the Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard, Finland.

Pohjanmaa first served as a school ship for the Naval Academy until 1992 when she was transferred to the Gulf of Finland Navy (Now called Gulf of Finland Naval Command). When she was completed, she replaced the minelayer Ruotsinsalmi and as a school ship, Matti Kurki. On 10 May 1982, she was given the traditional shield of ocean faring vessels previously held by Suomen Joutsen, so in effect Pohjanmaa continues the tradition of the three ships. The ship underwent a heavy modernization program in 1996-1998, which included a replacing her 120 mm main gun with a more modern Bofors 57 mm fully automatic anti-aircraft gun.

The annual training cruise for the cadets has taken the ship as far as Belém, Brazil. The accommodation capacity of the vessel for the long range cruises can be increased with accommodation containers.

On 28 June 2005, as part of their cruise, Pohjanmaa participated in the International Fleet Review which is a part of the Trafalgar 200 celebrations.

In 2007, the ship was refitted together with the Hämeenmaa-class minelayers and her colour scheme changed from camouflage to light grey. Her second aft gun was also removed from the aft deck due to narrow shooting sectors, which were even further narrowed due to a new bigger hydraulic crane of a new seaboat.

In 2010, it was decided that the Pohjanmaa would participate in Operation Atalanta in 2011. On 6 April 2011, Pohjanmaa captured a vessel suspected as pirate mothership along with two speedboats. The search onboard revealed assault rifles, RPGs and other weapons. Eighteen of the suspected pirates were incarcerated onboard Pohjanmaa. Since the Prosecutor General of Finland decided not to prosecute, the pirates were transferred to the jurisdiction of Operation Atalanta, which later released the pirates. The pirate ship and the speedboats were scuttled at sea.

Naming

Pohjanmaa was christened on 8 June 1979 by Aili Haapkylä. The name comes from the Swedish-built pojamas of the 1770s — see "Pohjanmaa (disambiguation)" for other uses of the name.

The vessel has been nicknamed Puuhamaa by the Finnish Navy conscripts after the Finnish amusement park.

Replacement

Despite modernizations, the over 30-year-old Pohjanmaa reached the end of her operational lifespan in the mid-2010s and the minelayer was decommissioned in late 2013. She will be replaced by the next generation's surface combatant, bigger than the current missile boats and more capable for international co-operation, that is currently in pre-development stage. In addition to Pohjanmaa, the new class of multi-purpose naval vessels—dubbed MTA2020 (Monitoimialus 2020) in the preliminary papers—is intended to replace also Hämeenmaa-class minelayers and Rauma-class missile boats as they are retired.

When Pohjanmaa was decommissioned, it was stated that the vessel would be either sold or scrapped if a sufficient buyer is not found. In September 2013, it was reported that the Estonian Navy was interested in purchasing the vessel. However, it was later reported that Estonia decided not to purchase the vessel. Some interest was also expressed by the Croatian Navy whose representatives even came to Finland to inspect the vessel. The Finnish towing and salvage company Alfons Håkans also offered to buy the vessel, but was declined.

On 18 December 2015, it was announced that Pohjanmaa would be sold for scrap. The vessel would be broken up in Finland and the operation, which was expected to begin in March 2016, would cost about 248,100 euro. The engines and some equipment would be sold to cover part of the expenses. However, in March 2016 it was reported that the scrapping has been cancelled and the vessel will be sold to Meritaito, the Finnish state-owned shipping company that owns and operates fairway support vessels. The vessel was stripped of her armament and converted to a survey vessel at Western Shipyard in Salo, Finland, according to plans drawn by the Finnish design company ILS Oy.

In the Finnish Navy, minelayer Hämeenmaa took up the position as flagship after Pohjanmaa was retired.

References

Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa Wikipedia


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