According to the Armed Forces Support Inspectorate (Inspektorat Wsparcia Sił Zbrojnych) in 2021 the Polish Navy will withdraw the final two Kobben-class conventional submarines, ORP Sęp (295) and ORP Bielik (297).
Photo by: Michal Szafran
Interestingly, in late 2020 the Polish Ministry of Defense informed that both remaining Kobben-class submarines are in good technical condition and safe for their crews. In other words, the MoD suggested that both vessels could remain in service for an additional few years, at least until the country acquires their replacements (most likely 2nd hand submarines from one of European allies).
Planned decommissioning of ORP Sęp and ORP Bielik means that the Polish Navy will no longer operate Kobben-class submarines, as the two previous vessels, ORP Kondor and ORP Sokol were withdrawn from service in 2017 and 2018.
The Polish Navy’s submarine fleet will be left with only a single vessel, a Soviet-era ORP Orzel of the 877E/Kilo project. However, the submarine has been undergoing major repairs for the past several years and currently is not in a combat ready state. Therefore, in reality, for the next couple years Poland might be left without a single operationally capable vessel of this class.
Although, the Polish MoD intends to sign an agreement with Sweden for the purchase of two 2nd hand A17 Södermanland-class submarines, HSwMS Södermanland and HSwMS Östergötland. However, negotiations with the Swedish authorities are still undergoing and at this point, it’s difficult to predict, when and with what result will they be finalised.