Formation of Maritime Coalition
The UK and Norway have joined forces to create a “coalition for maritime capacities” for Ukraine. This move is set to significantly strengthen Ukraine's naval defense and security systems.
Provision of Former British Mine Hunters
The coalition has announced plans to equip the Ukrainian navy with two decommissioned British mine hunters – HMS Grimsby and HMS Shoreham. These vessels will play a pivotal role in beefing up Ukraine's maritime security and safeguarding grain export routes via the Black Sea.
Need for Enhanced Maritime Capabilities
The recent incident involving a Panamanian ship hitting a mine in the Black Sea in late December underscores the urgency for such enhanced maritime capabilities. These vessels will provide Ukraine with the necessary means to secure its maritime borders and economic interests.
Turkey’s Stance on Naval Transit
Despite these plans, Turkey has refused to allow the transit of the two mine hunters through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. The refusal is based on the application of the 1936 Montreux Convention, which Turkey is invoking to prevent escalation in the Black Sea region.
Since 1 March 2022, Turkey has been blocking access to the Black Sea for all military vessels. The Montreux Convention permits the transit of foreign warships in peacetime, but also provides Turkey with the right to block access to belligerent powers during times of war.
Alternative Routes for Delivery
The UK, despite having strong relations with Turkey, now finds itself in a predicament of finding alternative means to deliver the mine hunters to Ukraine. One viable option under consideration is the use of the Rhine-Main-Danube large gauge canal as a potential route.