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Poland gives thumbs down to German subs

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Photo: DPA
09:50 CET+01:00
Poland believes German-made submarines are not up to the job of defending Polish shores, but sources have told The Local that on the back of a landmark naval deal between the two countries, Poland is likely to lease two subs anyway.

On May 27th German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière and his Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak signed a “Letter of Intention” to increase co-operation between the two countries’ navies in 28 areas including through a “submarine operating authority”.

The agreement pledged to “provide a sound foundation for the further enhancement of the German-Polish naval cooperation in the future,” in several fields including military procurement. 

Poland is looking to acquire three new submarines by 2030 and reports on Polish news portal Defence 24 in September said “particularly intense talks” were underway between the German makers of the U-212A submarines, TKMS, and the Polish Ministry of Defence to lease two of their submarines.

This prompted a question in parliament by Polish MP Jacek Sasin to the under secretary of state Waldemar Skrzypczak about how far along a deal to buy the submarines was and why a contract worth hundreds of millions of euros had not been put out to tender.

Surprisingly, Skrzypczak admitted Germany’s top submarine did not meet all of the “mandatory requirements of tactical and technical equipment developed by the military, including, in particular,the propulsion system, missile weapons and rescue system.”

He added that the Minister of Defence, at the request of the head of the general staff, had agreed to appoint a specialist to look at the “operational requirements” of the submarine.

But instead of looking elsewhere or getting the Germans to improve their submarines, the Polish navy is expected to water down its demands so a deal with the Germans can still go ahead, an industry source told The Local.

“The Polish MoD has authorized the navy to change their specifications so that the U-212A could fit the new specifications,” they said. "For the cash-strapped Polish Ministry of Defence this offer [of leasing the submarines] is a gift which will avoid a costly tender and certainly an endless diplomatic row [with the Germans]."

Media reports in Poland criticized the MoD for seeming to favour the German U-212As rather than putting a bid for the submarines out to tender.

But on November 15th the Ministry of Defence released a statement denying it had done anything wrong. It did, however, refuse to rule out a deal with the Germans.

“Contrary to media suggestions the Ministry of Defence does not take any particular type of ship into account,” it said.

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“We want submarines which, in the future, will become the guardians of Polish security and guard the sea routes to raise the strategic defense potential of our country."

A decision is expected next year.

TKMS, which makes the U-212A submarines, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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