The Swedish-Swiss ABB Group has announced on 5 April 2023 that it has been contracted by the Finnish shipbuilder Meyer Turku to supply an integrated power and propulsion package for two newly built Finnish Border Guard (FBG) patrol vessels.

The power and propulsion package will comprise dual Azipod propulsors and the onboard DC grid power system. While the Azipod ensures high manoeuvrability and ice-breaking capabilities to support demanding operations, the onboard DC grid provides enhanced power train efficiency and compatibility with alternative energy sources.

ABB tell us that the vessels’ components are “designed for low emissions and energy efficiency, the vessels ensure continuous readiness to keep people, property and nature safe”. A suitable trio of concerns for the current security situation in the region as Finland, a new Nato member, stands to defy the implications of Russia’s militarisation and exploitation of energy resources in the Arctic region.

Finland’s maritime border

Due delivery in 2025 and 2026, the 98m ships will replace the outgoing Tursas and Uisko patrol vessels. Alongside the existing Turva, they will be guarding Finland’s borders, performing maritime rescue operations and helping mitigate environmental impacts.

The new vessels will also serve as command bases for other vessels, helicopters, rescue swimmers, divers, and, when necessary, other public security authorities during joint operations. With them, the ability to carry out mass evacuations will grow to more than 400 people and the capacity to collect spilled oil will approximately double from the present level.

The building of these vessels for the country’s environmental commitments in the High North is one part of its defence strategy that is often overlooked.

Shoring up Finnish defence

The enhancement of FBG patrol vessels is part of the country’s wider defence expansion. In fact, alongside its maritime capabilities, the Finnish Ministry of Defence have also announced on the 5 April that it will procure the David’s Sling system as the next long-range air defence system, which is to be delivered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The David’s Sling system will extend the operational range of Finland’s ground-based air defence capabilities significantly. The minimum flight altitude requirement of the system was set at 15,000m in the request for quotation. It will help to strengthen Nato’s new 1,300km border frontier with Russia.

These latest developments in supporting Finland’s defence ambitions follows a long list of military resources procured by the Finnish Ministry. From NLAW anti-armour weapons and 155mm munitions to a $9.4bn contract for F-35As and Eurospike anti-tank missiles.