Rauma Marine Constructions, Finland’s foremost shipbuilder, has laid the keel of the country’s first Squadron 2020, or Pohjanmaa-class corvette.

Keel-laying is a milestone that celebrates the construction of the hull, in effect the birth of the ship. This comes just after steel was first cut at the end of October 2023, and marks the start of construction after several years of design phase delays.

When Rauma was initially contracted for the Squadron 2020 project in September 2019, the Finnish Defence Forces expected the first vessel to enter service in 2023.

Due to national security reasons, the corvettes are being built indoors, Rauma revealed.

Present in the ceremony were the ordering party: the Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command, the Finnish Navy, the maritime classification society Lloyd’s Register, as well as the Rauma management and key employees in the project.

It has been five months since the start of construction, and the operative phase has progressed efficiently. The first part of the keel weighs 56t. The Squadron 2020 project has employed approximately 3,600 person-years in Finland.

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Finnish Navy and Rauma Shipyard attendees to the keel-laying of the first corvette. Credit: Rauma Marine Constructions.

Pohjanmaa-class – Finland’s new fleet

Rauma was tasked with the construction of four Pohjanmaa-class multi-role corvettes. The development is part of the €1.23bn ($1.36bn) Squadron 2020 project, which will replace eight ageing vessels currently in service within the Finnish Navy; namely the Rauma-class and Hamina-class corvettes that the Nordic nation acquired between 1990-2006.

The fleet can be deployed in anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and mine-laying missions.

It is purpose-built to suit the needs of Finland’s operating environment, designed to withstand Baltic temperatures and year-round deployment in icy waters. Each vessel will feature an ice-strengthened hull, suitable for navigation in ice and shallow waters. The hull is powered by a modern propulsion system, which will ensure high speed and low underwater noise levels.

The stern side of the hull will contain a flight deck to accommodate a single helicopter or multiple uncrewed aerial vehicles. The vessels will also contain a hangar facility for a helicopter.

These warships will be 114m long, will have a beam of 16m and a draught of 5m. The corvette displacement will weigh 3,900t. Each ship will be operated by a crew of 70 people while accommodation facilities will be available for up to 120 staff members.

Bofors 57mm naval gun will be the main weapon installed on the bow deck. Each vessel will feature two Trackfire remote weapon stations with small, medium and heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers and lightweight medium-calibre cannons.

For air defence, the corvettes will be fitted with the ITO20 surface-to-air missile system, which will integrate Mk41 vertical launchers for firing 32 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles. Each Pohjanmaa-class corvette will also be armed with eight Gabriel 5 surface-to-surface or anti-ship missiles.

As the Finnish Border Guard and Navy are upgrading their primary surface fleet, the naval vessels and surface combatants segment forms the second-largest sector in the Finnish defence market. Worth a total value of $1.23bn from 2023-2028, GlobalData intelligence anticipates the value allocation across the 2023-2028 period to peak in 2025 at $285m.