The UK Ministry of Defence announced 11 December, 2023, the formation of a new Maritime Capability Coalition that it will lead with Norway to deliver long-term support to the Ukraine in the Black Sea.  

The coalition aims to transform Ukraine’s Navy in a way that makes it more interoperable with Nato and western allies, and improve its overall security. Working closely with Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, the coalition will initiate the rapid development of a maritime force and Ukrainian Marine Corps, as well as inland capabilities including river patrol craft and coastal defence. 

“This capability boost marks the beginning of a new dedicated effort by the UK, Norway and our allies to strengthen Ukraine’s maritime capabilities over the long term, enhancing their ability to operate in defending their sovereign waters and bolstering security in the Black Sea,” said UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.

The news comes at the same time as an announcement from Shapps confirming the procurement of two Sandown-class mine-hunting vessels to the Ukrainian Navy to strengthen Ukraine’s capability to operate at sea. 

“These mine-hunters will deliver vital capability to Ukraine which will help save lives at sea and open up vital export routes, which have been severely limited since Putin launched his illegal full-scale invasion,” said Shapps. 

Russia has maintained a blockade at sea on Ukraine since its withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal in July. The addition of mine-hunting vessels to Ukraines navy is intended to counter threats from Russian sea mines and restore its maritime exports. Last month, during a visit to Ukraine, the UK’s Foreign Secretary welcomed efforts to support this goal by UK company Marsh McLennan, which aims to provide affordable shipping insurance for grain and food supplies exported from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports though a new ‘Unity Facility’ it has launched with the Ukrainian Government. 

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In September, 2023, it was announced that Romania will buy two Sandown-class Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMV) from the Royal Navy, the HMS Blyth and HMS Pembroke, for increased security in the Black Sea.