On October 30, 2023, a ceremony for the first steel cutting and the commencement of construction for the new type of corvette named “Pohjanmaa” for the Finnish Navy took place at the Finnish shipbuilding company Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) in Rauma. This corvette is one of four contracted as part of the Finnish Navy’s prospective program called “Laivue 2020” (“Fleet 2020”).
In September 2015, the Finnish Ministry of Defence made the official decision to begin the process of putting the Laivue 2020 programme into action. This programme has the objective of acquiring four multi-purpose corvettes for the Finnish Navy. It is anticipated that these four brand-new corvettes will be able to take the position of the four modified Rauma-class missile boats, the two Hameenmaa-class minelayers, and the flagship Pohjanmaa, all of which were removed from the fleet at the end of 2013. As part of the Laivue 2020 programme, the Finnish Navy will get four massive Pohjanmaa-class corvettes and four improved Hamina-class missile boats. Together, these eight vessels are projected to serve as the backbone of the Finnish Navy for the next twenty years.
The projected corvettes that will be built as part of the Laivue 2020 programme grew in size due to design changes and many iterations of amendments to the specifications. Their initial specifications were around 2,500 tonnes of full displacement and a length of 90 metres; however, they have grown to 4,300 tonnes of full displacement and a length of 117 metres (with a width of 16 metres and a draught of 5 metres). In addition, their breadth is now 16 metres, and their draught is 5 metres. In terms of their categorisation, this makes them substantial ships that are comparable to frigates. The technical design and construction of these four corvettes for the Finnish Navy were awarded to the RMC shipyard in September 2019, and the contract was for a total of 647.6 million euros (excluding government weapon delivery and certain radio equipment components). It was originally estimated that purchasing the four corvettes for the Finnish Navy would cost a maximum of 1.2 billion euros, but the current projection puts that figure closer to 1.45 billion euros.
The programme has been behind schedule for about two years compared to the original plan. The delivery of the lead corvette, Pohjanmaa, is anticipated for the year 2026, and all four ships are anticipated to be delivered to the fleet by the end of the year 2029. The corvettes are being assembled in a recently created RMC hall that costs 26 million euros and has dimensions of 186 metres in length, 44 metres in width, and 32 metres in height.
The new Finnish corvettes stand out thanks to their strengthened hulls, which are designed specifically for operations in cold weather. Following the CODLAG (Combined Diesel-Electric and Gas Turbine) scheme, the combined main diesel-gas turbine-electric power plant has a total power of 29 MW. It includes a boost gas turbine by General Electric model LM2500, four MAN 12V175D diesel generators (each with 1920 kW), and two variable pitch propellers driven by electric motors. Two diesel generators are mounted on specialised platforms equipped with a cascade of shock absorption so that anti-submarine search operations can be conducted at low noise levels and moderate speeds. It is anticipated that the ship will have a top speed of 26 knots, an economical range of 3500 miles, an autonomy of 14 days, a crew of 73, and the capacity to carry up to 120 passengers.
One 57mm universal Bofors Mk 3 artillery installation (relocated from Hamina-class missile boats during their upgrades), two remotely operated Saab Trackfire RWX systems (likely with 12.7mm machine guns), and 400mm anti-submarine torpedoes Saab Tp 47 are expected to be a part of the ship’s armament. The corvette will have two sets of mine rails, each carrying up to 100 mines of type RV 17. The ship’s hangar is built with the capacity to house a medium-sized helicopter permanently.
Most of the ship’s electronic warfare gear will come from Saab AB. This includes the 9LV combat management system, the Sea Giraffe 4A FF general surveillance radar (with fixed-panel AESA in an integrated mast), and the Sea Giraffe 1X, as well as two CEROS 200 fire control systems. The vessel will be outfitted with improved hydroacoustic technology, which will include a towed active-passive sonar system called Patria Sonac DTS, a hull-mounted active sonar system called Kongsberg SS2030, and a deployable active sonar system called Kongsberg SD9500. In addition to these features, the Rheinmetall MASS decoy launching system and cutting-edge electronic surveillance and countermeasures equipment will be fitted.