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The End Of An Era – The „Bielik” And „Sęp” Submarines Decommissioned

At the Naval Base in Gdynia a ceremony was held of lowering the colours on ORP „Bielik” (297) and ORP „Sęp” (295) submarines of the 207 Kobben Type (Project IKL IK29).

On 14 December this year, at the Naval Base in Gdynia, a ceremony of lowering the colours on submarines of ORP “Sęp” (295) and ORP “Bielik” (297) of the 207 Kobben Type (Project IKL IK9) took place. Information on the plans of imminent decommissioning of the ships appeared on 20 January this year. The ships will be transferred to the Agency of Military Property (AMW) (Poland will withdraw final Kobben submarines).

ORP “Sęp” (295) used to serve in the Norwegian Navy as HNoMS Skolpen (S306) in 1966-2001. Then she was transferred to the Polish Navy, where she was commissioned on 16 August 2002

The ceremony was held with the participation of the Guard of Honour and Orchestra of the Navy. According to the naval ceremonial, the colours and ensigns lowered by the commanders of both ships, will be handed over to the Polish Navy Museum. The ceremony was attended by the Vice-Admiral Jarosław Ziemiański, Inspector of the Polish Navy commander of the 3rd Ship Flotilla )3. FO), the Rear Admiral Mirosław Jurkowlaniec, personnel of the Submarine Squadron (dOP), ship christener of ORP “Bielik”, Mrs. Jolanta Banach, ships’ companies and invited guests.

The Tuesday’s ceremony had symbolic character, because both ships were withdrawn from active service in May this year, after the Sunlight 2x38ST10A batteries had been dismantled, together with accompanying equipment, on the basis of a contract worth PLN 999,999 gross dated 16 February this year, and concluded between the Repair Shipyard in Gdańsk and Command of the Naval Base in Gdynia.

The only submarine remaining in the service of the Polish Navy is currently ORP “Orzeł” (291) of the Project 877E Paltus (NATO codename: Kilo), although since 3 November she has been undergoing routine maintenance at the PGZ Shipyard in Gdynia. Therefore at this point, the Navy of the Republic of Poland does not have any submarine in the active service (ORP Orzel nears re-entering service).

According to the current technical modernisation plan of the Polish Armed Forces, up to 2034 are to be purchased two new submarines as part of the “Orka” programmme (Scorpène Type from Naval Group, 212CD from TKMS or A26 from Saab), after the failure to acquire Swedish HSwMS Södermanland and Östergötland submarines, i.e.modified A17 Södermanland Type.

ORP “Bielik” (297) served in the Norwegian Navy as HNoMS Svenner (S309) in 1967-2001. Then she was transferred to the Polish Navy, where she was commissioned on 8 September 2003. Image: 3. FO

The ORP “Sęp” submarine was built at the German Nordseeverke Shipyard for the Royal Norwegian Navy. In 1966 she entered the Norwegian service as HNoMS Skolpen. After the end of service in Norwegian Navy, she was handed over to the Polish Armed Forces. For the first time on the submarine numbered 295, the white and red flag were raised on 16v August 2002. The ship’s christener was Mrs. Małgorzata Szmajdzińska, the wife of the then Minister of National Defence, and the ceremony was held at the Naval Base in Gdynia. For over 19 years, the ship sailed more than 30,000 nautical miles, performing 296 immersions and spending 320 days at sea (of which 149 submerged). The “Sęp” participated in domestic and international exercises, among others Anakonda, Baltops, Crown Eagle, Smer/Medex, Bold Monarch, Dynamic Monarch, Danex, Passex, Dragon and Ostrobok.

The ORP “Bielik” was launched on 27 January 1967 at the German Nordseewerke Shipyard. She was commissioned to the Norwegian Navy in 1967 as HNoMS Svenner, and after her retitement from the service in 2001, the ship was handed over to the Polish Navy. Raising the white and red colours took place on 8 bSeptember 2003 at the Norwegian Naval Base in Bergen, and her official commissioning took place on 24 October 2003 at the Naval Base in Gdynia. The ship’s christener was Mrs. Jolanta Banach, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy, Work and Social Policy. Over the 18-year period of flyingh the white and red colours, three times (14.01 – 29.04.2004; 11.10. 2006 – 30.03.2007, 28.10.2010 – 25.02.2011) she participated in the NATO anti-terrorist operations Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. During her service in the Navy of the Republic of Poland, she sailed almost 57,000 nautical miles, performing 186 immersions, and spending 879 days at sea (of which 334 submerged). ORP “Bielik” participated in the most important international maneuvers in the Baltic Sea named Baltops, as well as in many domestic and international exercises, among others Joint Maritime Course, Crown Eagle, Anakonda, Smer/Medex, Bold Monarch, Dynamic Monarch, Danex, Passex, Dragon and Ostrobok.

The remaining two Polish Kobben Type submarines, the ex-ORP “Sokół” (294) and ex-ORP “Kondor” (297) were decommissioned on 8 June 2018 and 20 December 2017 respectively. The former was transferred last year to the Polish Navy Museum.

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