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First Romanian ex-Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunter arrives in country

The Romanian Navy's first Sandown-class minehunter arrives at the Port of Constanta on 19 December 2023. (Romanian MoD)

The first of two ex-Royal Navy (RN) Sandown-class mine-countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) procured by Romania from the United Kingdom has arrived in country.

Sub-Lieutenant Ion Ghiculescu (M 270), which previously served in the RN as HMS Blyth (M 111), departed the UK on 15 November and completed a 4,500 n miles journey across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Sea of Marmara, and Black Sea to arrive at the Port of Constanta on 19 December 2023, the Romanian Navy said.

Ahead of its arrival in Romania, the ship's crew of 40 personnel completed the RN Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) between July and November.

Sub-Lieutenant Ion Ghiculescu is one of two ex-RN Sandown-class minehunters acquired under a government-to-government agreement concluded between Romania and the UK. The vessel was decommissioned from RN service in 2021 and officially transferred to the Romanian Navy in September 2023. Ahead of its transfer the ship was refurbished by UK shipbuilder Babcock at its shipyard in Rosyth, Scotland.

The second vessel, HMS Pembroke , will be retired from service in early 2024 and is planned to be transferred to the Romanian Navy in the second quarter of 2024.

The two minehunters will join Romania's 146th Mine Countermeasures Division.

Ex- Blyth and Pembroke are the latest Sandown-class minehunters to be sold by the UK as it works to progressively decommission the class by 2025. Of an original class of 12, the sale leaves just two remaining vessels in service: HMS Penzance and HMS Bangor .

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