Romania set to revive Type 22 frigate upgrade programme

4 February 2015

Romania is set to rekindle long-delayed plans for the Phase 2 modernisation of its two Type 22 Batch 2 frigates, the head of the Romanian Navy has revealed.

Addressing the IQPC Surface Warships 2015 conference in Genoa on 28 January, Rear Admiral (UH) Alexandru Mirsu, chief of the Romanian Naval Forces Staff, told delegates that the Romanian Navy was now looking to revive the Phase 2 upgrade during the course of 2015. "Our current thinking is to fit a modern combat management system, introduce a 3-D [surveillance] radar," he said, "and then to put some 'kinetic' equipment on board in terms of anti-surface and anti-air missiles, and a close-in weapon system."

Rea Adm Mirsu added that there had been an intensive debate on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. "The water conditions in the Black Sea are very unusual," he said, "but we will also use the Type 22s for international operations so we must think about what type of towed array ASW sonar we need."

Acquired from the United Kingdom in 2003, and commissioned into the Romanian Navy in September 2004 and April 2005 respectively, the frigates Regele Ferdinand (ex-HMS Coventry ) and Regina Maria (ex-HMS London ) form the Frigate Flotilla together with the indigenously-built frigate Marasesti . Entering service in 1985, Marasesti was conceived on the basis of Soviet doctrine and equipment.

Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria received a basic Phase 1 modernisation as part of their regeneration in the UK prior to transfer. This included the addition of a 76/62 Super Rapid gun; a new gun fire control system - as an adjunct to the legacy CACS-1 command system - based on NAUTIS 3 processing and a System 2500 electro-optical director; and the installation of DL-12T decoy launchers. The ships are now also able to embark an IAR-330 Puma helicopter in the ASW role.

Romania had planned to commence a Phase 2 modernisation - adding enhanced command facilities, improved self-defences and an offensive anti-surface warfare capability - during the late 2000s but this plan was put on hold owing to funding shortfalls.

Other additional capabilities being sought in the scope of the Phase 2 programme include an improved electronic warfare suite, and small-calibre guns for force protection.

No firm timetable was disclosed by Rear Adm Mirsu, although he did state that the Romanian Navy expects the Phase 2 modernisation to keep the two Type 22s viable for between 10 and 20 years additional service. "We will keep Marasesti in its current configuration through to the completion of the Type 22 modernisation," he added. "After that we have to decide on a Marasesti replacement...either a 'light frigate' or a 'heavy corvette'."