ECA GROUP press release
8 months after winning the contract for the modernisation of the Navy’s MCM capabilities. This first milestone consists of disassembling the legacy equipment of mine countermeasures vessels. Following this successful phase, and the Critical Design Review of ship architecture, teams will begin installing the new, upgraded equipment in October 2021.
ECA GROUP will install and configure its UMIS Unmanned Mine Countermeasures Integrated System on the 3 vessels. The UMIS Toolbox is a comprehensive suite of state-of-the-art technology for unmanned, mine clearance operations, while removing the need for the ship to enter the minefield (stand-off concept). For the Latvian Navy, ECA GROUP will replace the vessels’ conventional mine detection systems based on a hull sonar with a more compact, mobile and evolutive unmanned system UMIS, consisting of AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) A18-M drones fitted with the latest generation ECA GROUP synthetic aperture sonar UMISAS for detection, and several underwater robots, the Seascan MK2 and K-STER C for mines identification and neutralisation. The new Ultra Short Baseline positioning system installed in place of hull sonar enables not only tracking but also acoustic communication, replacing the previous acoustic modem which had to be launched from the deck.
ECA GROUP will modify the vessels to accommodate the new equipment with the support of its subsidiary MAURIC, specialized in naval architecture, and Latvian industrial partners, in order to install these new generation mine countermeasures systems. Several Latvian companies have been consulted for the supply of equipment and coordination of on-site activities and works. Other Latvian companies will also be consulted for procurement of racks, trolleys, launch and recovery systems of drones. MAURIC will make a valuable contribution in ensuring the operability of the equipment installed on board, guaranteeing enhanced performance of the ships following their upgrades.
An integral part of the upgrade by ECA GROUP and MAURIC will be the complete renewal of the Combat Room to integrate cabinets and consoles necessary for operating the new navigation systems (WECDIS, USBL positioning system and Inertial Navigation System by iXblue), new Autopilot (by SIREHNA), and ECA GROUP’s UMISOFT software suite for Mission Management, Data Management and Drone Control. A new Iridium and Wi-Fi antenna will be installed on each ship for communicating with the A18-M drone at the surface.
Naval forces around the world are faced with economic restrictions and the need to rationalise resources whilst enhancing their capabilities in order to fulfil their increasingly challenging missions of fighting threats and protecting populations.
By upgrading mine warfare equipment on existing vessels, ECA GROUP brings state of the art capabilities to navies while enabling them to prolong the life of their fleet already in service. (In the case of the Latvian Navy, they had acquired their vessels from the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2006.) The UMIS Toolbox can also be installed on other models of conventional mine countermeasures vessels or on ships that are not used for mine countermeasures. ECA GROUP offers this modernisation solution to all navies that intend to keep and optimise their conventional mine countermeasure vessels or consider the acquisition of pre-owned vessels.
Naval News comments
From the Latvian side, this modernization program is just seen as an interim solution before considering the replacement of the fleet in the 2030s. According to a Navy officer, one of the scenarios would be a joint purchase with the Estonian and Lithuanian navies.