Finland has a large coastline and hundreds of islands, and just a small Navy to protect the littoral waters in the busy Baltic Sea. Finland’s navy has a tradition of fast patrol boats, and the newest of these is the Hamina-class fast attack craft, or “ohjusvene,” in Finnish.
Lt. Senior Grade Patrik Hämäläinen commands the Finnish Navy Ship FNS Pori, fourth and final ship of the Hamina class. Pori was built at Aker Finnyards in Rauma, Finland, and is based at Upinniemi. She was delivered to the fleet in 2006.
The 250-ton, 167-foot (51-meter) Pori has an aluminum hull and composite superstructure, and draws less than 2 meters of water. Pori is powered by a pair of MTU V-16 diesels driving Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets, and can achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots (although economical cruising speed is about 23 knots), while also being very maneuverable.
The stealthy design and the composite structure – made with Kevlar, balsa, and radar absorbent material – make Pori difficult to see on radar. The engine exhaust is directed underwater and a water-spray system topside helps reduce thermal signature. “We’re hard to detect,” Hämäläinen says.
Pori is heavily armed for a ship of her size, and networked with other friendly forces. Sensors include the EADS TRS-3D/16-ES radar along with the Saab Ceros-200 fire control radar and optronic tracking system for guns and missiles.
Pori has the fully automatic Bofors 57 mm gun with Bofors Defense 3P (Programmable, Pre-fragmented, Proximity-fuzed) ammunition for surface, air and ground targets, as well as mounts for two 12.7 mm (.50-caliber) machine guns. The patrol boat can carry four of the Mk3 versions of the Saab RBS-15 anti-ship missile, with a range of more than 60 miles (100 km), as well as eight vertically-launched Denel Dynamics Umkhonto-IR surface-to-air missiles from South Africa. Pori is also equipped to lay mines or drop depth charges.
Hämäläinen says Pori operates both independently and with other patrol boats.
The ship has a crew of 29. Everyone stands four on-four off watches. Normal operations are conducted with a two-person bridge team. There is an auto-pilot and automation, but Hämäläinen says that “human judgment” is the primary system.
Although not a member of NATO, Finland is an active participant in international naval and maritime cooperation, including Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO), the European Union (EU) and NATO, and is engaged in bilateral cooperation with Russia. The Navy includes patrol craft, minelayers, minesweepers, and various other transports and auxiliaries.
The Finnish navy today is comprised of about 2,100 officers, specialists, sailors and civilians. Each year a number of conscripts become part of the Navy to perform their obligated service, and about 3,400 reservists receive annual refresher training.